Many Thais revere lotus plants, which symbolize purity, enlightenment and wisdom in the Thai culture.
According to lore, when Buddha was born, his first seven steps were cushioned by these beautiful, symmetrical flowers. All over Thailand, it’s common to find temples and pavilions in the midst of lotus ponds.
About 30 miles south of Bangkok, against the backdrop of craggy limestone hills, tens of thousands of graceful, pink blossoms recently emerged from a dark, murky lake. It was an awe-inspiring sight that many had been waiting a decade to witness.
Due to drought and pollution, the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park had not seen a single sacred lotus (nulumbo nucifera) since 2007. In the last few years, park rangers ramped up efforts to clean up Thailand’s first marine national park. Those efforts, along with increased rainfall earlier this year, seem to have resulted in this splendid visual phenomenon.
In 2016, Thailand attracted 32.6 million foreign tourists, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year. While Thai authorities welcome the boost in economy, they are also taking steps to avoid over-tourism, which poses a strain on the country’s natural resources and the environment.
Concerned about the fragile nature of these plants, park officials and environmentalists are urging tourists to hold off on visiting the swamp until the area has time to mend.
“The national park is in the process of restoring the lotuses. When it comes to the right time the park will open them up to the public,” head ranger Rungroj Aswakultarin told global news agency AFP.
Since a lotus will bloom and wither within a 3- to 5-day span, planning a trip around next year’s blossoms may be a challenge. But given how stunning the Kho Sam Roi Yot National Park looks aside from the swampy area where the lotuses bloom, it’s safe to say you probably wouldn’t be disappointed with a trip here any way you slice it.