Nov 14 2012

Photo essay: Cambodia’s fabulous flowers

Published by at 3:18 am under Photo


One of the loveliest things about Southeast Asia is the wild abundance of flowery life, even when you’re in urban contexts like Siem Reap, where orchids (that cost less than a dollar) festoon many of the bars and restaurants.

Lotuses, an integral part of Cambodia's cultural and natural landscape

Lotuses, an integral part of Cambodia’s cultural and natural landscape.

Whether you’re out on a walk, or exploring the temples, and even when you dip indoors for a massage, they’re all around you.

Fragrant, divine frangipani

Fragrant, divine frangipani.

And aside from their vibrant, exotic glories, there is a strangeness to them too. Given Cambodia’s climate, dry for half the year and wet and steamy for the other half, it’s not uncommon to encounter lush tropical vegetation sharing space with a spiny cactus, a plant you’d normally associate with desert landscapes.

And did you know it also comes in pink?!

And did you know the frangipani also comes in pink?!

Not long before we got married, I informed my poor, benighted wedded-to-be that if he ever bought me flowers I’d break his legs. Thinking he was off the two-dozen, gazillion dollar bouquet hook, and graciously ignoring the underlying menace, he danced a jig for a moment until he realised that he’d actually have to put some real thought into those occasions when he’s trying to tell me that he’s done something horribly wrong and needs a shortcut to put me in an accommodating mood before letting me know what it is.

You'll see these in their millions lining the roads to Banteay Srei at certain times of year

You’ll see these in their millions lining the roads to Banteay Srei at certain times of year

On the other hand, I don’t love them so much that I know what most of them might actually be called. I know some people who feel the same about their lovers, but I think I’m on the less grave side of soulless.

This cactus is not lost, it's in my garden

This cactus is not lost, it’s in my garden.

Like anyone else who’s been in Asia for more than a minute or two, I’ve got my lotuses and frangipanis down, and a couple of other easy ones, like asters.

Not entirely sure if these are indigenous...

Not entirely sure if these are indigenous …

I can even spot a hollyhock from a hundred yards, though I don’t have a picture of one unfortunately. But for the rest, I’m going to have to rely on you to see if you can spot anything you recognise, and let me know.

This incredibly pretty bush is in my garden too, but no idea what it's called. Here it hosts a Ratanakiri totem

This incredibly pretty bush is in my garden too, but no idea what it’s called. Here it hosts a Ratanakiri totem.

It’s not because I don’t like flowers that I never want to be given them. I just object to being buttered up with something that I can’t throw and do some damage with or, if he’s been really bad, launch expensively off the side of a boat (or tuk tuk if needs must), with poignant music playing in the background of my mind.

Another pretty frilly one...

Another pretty frilly one…

Because I do like flowers, and I like them especially when they’re still in the ground, or on a tree or waving at me from hedgerows.

Is purple in or out this season?

Is purple in or out this season?

I didn’t realise quite how much I liked them until I reviewed some of my Cambodia photographs and found several dozen images only of flowers. About 13 dozen of them to be precise, and those are the ones that are left after doing a major purge.

These are everywhere at all times of year; I like their decadent, slightly slutty feel

These are everywhere at all times of year; I like their decadent, slightly slutty feel.

And these aren’t images of flowers in the background, or flowers to the side, but full-on, centre stage, in all their frilly gorgeousness, just flowers.

I don't know what these are, but I start to get an idea of where knicker designers get their ideas from!

I don’t know what these are, but I start to get an idea of where knicker designers get their ideas from.

I have more pictures of flowers than I do of temples, or people I know. I’m not sure what that says.

How we more commonly see lotus flowers when not out jungling

How we more commonly see lotus flowers when not out jungling.

I managed to reduce my 12.91 dozen images down to 46, then down to 15.

These lovely flowers are very common in hedgerows where they look too delicate to last under the blast of the sun, but last they do

These look too delicate to last under the blast of the sun, but last they do.

They don’t even scrape the surface of what you see around us here, which means I’m off now with my camera to capture some more.

I found this magnificent flower at the Angkor Butterfly Centre near Banteay Srei - I've never seen it anywhere else since

I found this magnificent flower at the Angkor Butterfly Centre; I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

Don’t forget yours.

One of my favourites for last

One of my favourites for last.

More still
» Previous post:
» Next post:

Disclaimer
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.

Agoda logo
best price guarantee

One response so far

One Response to “Photo essay: Cambodia’s fabulous flowers”

  1. [...] are a dream for amateur botanists and keen gardeners, filled with individually labelled trees and vibrant flowers which are home to chattering birds and delicate butterflies, as well as the odd lizard or tree [...]

Leave a Reply