A city of flowers and fragrance (Pictures)

Flower Market, Bangkok

Spring is in the air and my social media algorithms keep reminding me of the Basant and Holi celebrations back home (India), especially in the temples where lord Krishna is playing Holi.

I write this piece sitting beside a swimming pool in a hotel in Bangkok after having visited probably one amongst the world’s biggest flower markets here. There is no bigger and better way of appreciating nature in its spring days than watching, feeling and being therapeutic amongst the various colours of flowers.

Luckily, I have been holidaying with a lot of free daytime with me, while my wife is working during these hours. I picked up Bangkok’s map and stumbled upon the Pak Khlong Talat flower market by good fortune. With a little bit of help from the hotel’s travel desk making my way in the most comfortable sky trains and tube metro I escalate up the stairs to the most beautiful sites I could lay my eyes and mind on.

The flower market across the victory bridge is an absolutely stunning place. Well defined and with modern construction and keeping in mind the traditional architectural designs, the market is a heaven for both sellers and buyers of fruits and vegetables.

Quite a number of sellers have been in this trade for generations together but as I write this on the international women’s day I see a lot of women and girls engaged in this business. There were only young girls and women that I could find to converse and tell me in detail about the flowers and its trade.

The market was full of innumerable varieties of flowers of different colours, aroma and beauty; some of which are grown indigenously in the north of Thailand. I could see a lot of flowering trees in this season that include a lot of varieties that can be seen growing in abundance in India also like Frangipani, Jungle flame and Cherry blossoms.

Yellow orchids besides varieties of others with spots on their petals and shades have made it to being the holy and the national flower of Thailand. Yellow is the colour that is revered in Buddhism.

Flower Market Bangkok

Pond, a twenty year girl, shy in nature sells varieties of orchids procured from a town called Nakhon Pathom. This is a city up in the north of Bangkok producing varieties of orchids and other tropical exotic fruits and vegetables. Tropical climate in Thailand makes it a country conducive to cultivating exotic flowers and fruits.

Northern Thailand with Chiang Mai, an ancient city of Thailand, cultivates most of the floral produce. Though spring season is considered to be the best for blooming, winters in Thailand are the real season for the floral business.

Flower sales go up during Valentine’s day and during the wedding seasons that come twice every year in March-April and in September in Thailand. While being dazed in the middle of this huge market I come across a couple by the name Sope from a small town of Sorento in Italy. This couple has visited Bangkok a couple of times and never left the chance to visit the flower market during the end of their stay buying a bagful of different varieties of Orchids. It has never been a problem for them to take flowers back home on a direct flight but they were a bit sceptical about carrying them via Germany with strict prohibitory laws on plants and flowers being carried along.

Talking about the global market of flowers, China comes first as being the biggest exporter to Thailand. Most of the roses are imported here from China meticulously packed for their longevity. Beautiful arrangements made out of only roses go to hotel desks and homes.

Flower arrangement is also a great art seen being done by the great women force in the market. Thai people are very traditional and have small temples in front of their work and residential places. They make sure to put a garland or a rosary on the deities every morning. Beautiful rosaries and garlands are made there and then adorned in the temples. I see some Buddhist monks shopping for yellow marigolds.

Cham, a young man dealing exclusively in Marigold flowers, tells me how they get procured from a small town called Mae Sot nearing the western borders of Thailand with Burma, a town rather infamous for human trafficking in Thailand.

Mei, another young girl in her mid-thirties sharing the responsibility of running the business from a huge shop owned by her uncle for thirty years is an experienced hand. She sits in the middle of her shop handling the computer, following orders and running around counting bags, carefully packed and kept in the cold storage.

Many occasions in Thailand see a spur in the floral business. Thai people celebrate the birthdays of their royals with a great fanfaronade. People adorn their homes and business establishments. Royals and Thai monarchy carry a lot of respect for being the pillars of stability in Thailand. Mei shows me some indigenous breeds of flowers by the name Jasmine, Hibiscus sunflowers and blue lotus to name a few but Roses, orchids and carnations remain the bestsellers in the market. A highly recommended visit to Bangkok’s flower market for tourists and other visitors alike.

[Ashok Mathur is a free-lance writer based in Delhi]