Alex Dumchus, 25.04.2012 21:00
Once during our trip in Phuket we got an idea to go see Phuket Butterfly Garden being allured by an advertisement which read it was a world's best one with over 40 species of butterfly mated there. Yet before we asked a tour guide of our travel agency about how to reach the garden and she was really surprised and wondered why we're whatsoever going there: “What do you want to see? There are just a couple of butterflies flying to and fro followed by the third one.”
Anyway, we didn't get that seriously since she was definitely not an expert, so we were determined to check it out ourselves. I should notice that there are actually lots of various, beautiful butterflies in Thailand, swallowtail (Papilionidae) particularly.
We were located in the northwestern part of the island near Nai Thon Beach. The Butterfly Garden was almost right in the middle of the island not far from shopping malls. One-way taxi ride cost ~THB800 (Thai baht) and it took about half an hour. There was no alternative transport as well.
Garden entrance fee was THB300 per person. At the entrance we were welcomed by two thai women who offered us refreshing drinks (a quarter of a glass) and cups of butterfly food which was something like a homemade brew with honey and sugar. As for the garden, it began with an insect museum that we saw first — tarantulas, bugs, grasshoppers under glass and farther there were butterfly drawers. Most insects were in good condition, lightning was partial and quite faint. There were no more than 50—70 species of butterfly and moth including many non-native ones such as morpho butterflies (Morpho), Giant Blue Swallowtail (Papilio zalmoxis), Sloane's Urania (Urania sloanus) and others.
Then we could see the butterfly garden itself spread over about 300 sq meters. There was a green kapron net under the glass roof, walls decorated with micromesh, lots of plants, very humid and languorous air. I'm not sure about the inside, but the outside temperature was 39°C. There were as much butterflies as... I could count plenty of 5 species, that's all. Photos and a video attached. I was unlucky to shoot three similar butterflies that flying over the garden and looked like the Great Orange Tip (Hebomoia glaucippe), so I've got only a picture for you to see. The sole swallowtail butterfly over there was supposedly the Common Windmill (Atrophaneura polyeuctes) though I might be wrong. I also glimpsed the Scarlet Mormon (Papilio deiphobus rumanzovia) male alone, albeit could I shoot 'em neither. There was an arbor and a brocaded carp pond in the middle of the garden.
Behind the garden there was kind of a “mating” dim room decorated with net where we saw maybe a dozen butterflies of two species and four tourists, and also an insectarium with 5 pupa sections. We couldn't look over all pupae since at the moment two thai men were taking emerged butterflies out of sections. They actually catching butterflies right on their wings.
Next was a silk museum though it could be hardly named suchwise, just a half-dark room with silkworm pupae (Bombyx mori), an old silk producing machine tool, samples of cloths and something else what I did look through. Cafe and a gift shop with usual stuff, glass encased butterfly wings as key trinkets, butterfly gift boxes with properly spread butterflies that had natural antennas. Morphos, uranias, swallowtail butterflies cost THB1200 (same price in roubles) for one piece.
Well, the Butterfly Garden turned out to be kind of disappointing and could be hardly compared as to, say, Butterfly Garden in the “Vertol City” shopping mall in Rostov-on-Don (Russia). The latter presents at least 20 species of butterfly and moth with such beloved by all as Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), morpho butterflies, monarchs (Danaus), swallowtail butterflies, owl butterflies (Caligo) and a few more.
Just want to warn you not to trust advertising and save your time and money. This is my personal opinion though whilst you may go see and make your own.
Photos: Alex Dumchus
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