Sunday, January 27, 2008

Suan Luang Rama IX Public Park and Kasetsart University

After a wonderful two-day visit to a truly unique botanical garden, we traveled by car from Nong Nooch to Bangkok for another set of important visits. Reaching Bangkok, we drove directly to Suan Luang Rama IX Public Park for a meeting with several members of the park’s governing body, Suan Luang Rama IX Foundation. The public park was built to honor HM the King of Thailand, on his 60th birthday and was completed 05 December 1987. Khunying Suchada Sripen, Vice Chairman of the Suan Luang Rama IX Foundation Executive Committee, gave a warm welcome to the group and also reviewed some details of the park’s operation and development. The Suan Luang Rama IX Public Park is composed of several distinct sections, including geographic gardens and display beds, for the visitor to experience independently. The garden also contains an impressive collection of bibliographic artifacts representing the life of the King in Rajamangkala Hall. During 2007, this prominent piece of architecture was slated for renovation to celebrate the King’s 80th birthday.

The Fellows and chaperones then toured several areas of the public park with members of the Foundation. Together we took several opportunities to stop and stroll around important plant collections and display areas, and the group took advantage of the time to discuss maintenance and management related issues with the park’s professional staff. The visit ended with refreshments and the exchange of business cards before leaving this wonderful public park given for the people of Bangkok.

After a wonderful lunch at a local restaurant provided by our guide, Mai, the group continued to our next appointment with the Department of Horticulture at Kasetsart University. That afternoon Dr. Poonpipope Kasemsap, explained the structure of Kasetsart University, its history, and current operation. Dr. Kasemsap also explained the various academic programs and curricula within the Faculty of Agriculture and the Department of Horticulture at Kasetsart. After our introduction, Associate Professor Alisara Menakanit was present to highlight a unique, newly established masters program in landscape architecture. The program combines the strengths of both the landscape architecture and horticulture departments to educate the latest group of Thai landscape architects. We enjoyed a tour of several landscapes designed by graduates of the program with Dr. Menakanit after the meeting. The students employed wonderful plant combinations with striking design elements in several public spaces around the Kasetsart University Library, and it was obvious that the university community benefited greatly from their education and work.

At the end of the afternoon, we were all happy to have added these two establishments into our professional network and look forward to furthering our interaction. That evening we dined at a European restaurant in Bangkok (our first in weeks!) and rested for another day of touring in Thailand.

Barnabas, Dan, Jackie, Lorrie, Matt E., Matt Q., Yoko

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