Saturday, July 28, 2012

What the heck is a Champaka?

Well! A champaka is a flower native to southeast asia and it's the base (and I believe only ingredient) in the most expensive perfume in the world, Joy. It grows in China, where I was born, and I still remember street hawkers running up to our car with little clusters of the blossoms strung together with red thread. I would always beg my mom for them and we'd twist them up in one of our shirt buttons and luxuriate in their completely intoxicating scent all day. 

There was a champaka tree growing outside the Chinese cultural center when I lived in Hawai'i. It was well over 60 feet tall and I could just reach the lowest branch to pluck a single flower when they were in bloom. The tree was guarded by a grumpy old Chinese man, who glared at me with hands on hips the whole time I was doing it. The next time I visited the center the lowest branch had been hacked off. What a jerk!

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