The colors are almost too bright. The smell of Jasmine and something green infuses the air, making it even more humid, but also unbelievably delicious and fresh. The sidewalks are slippery, flip-flops are not a great idea. People are pushing along, there is some typical somewhat friendly bartering and instead of fresh fish here you get garlands on ice. Welcome to the flower market Bangkok!
Flower Market Bangkok
I’m a market person. Some people like malls, others markets. The first thing I will do when I visit a new country is going to a market. I will walk around until I get the essence of what this place might be all about. I’m not talking about fancy flea-markets or souvenir stalls, I’m talking about the markets where the locals go: food, animals, appliances. They come on roadsides or in big halls, are open really late or very early, and are usually crowded with determination – everybody means business. Everybody but me. I am just here to watch and take it all in. I just want to inhale the good, bad and the ugly – yes, I’m talking about you, skinned Vietnamese toads! My only business is my camera. I point to pig’s head and to my camera “May I?”. The lady behind the trestle table nods and shrugs. What is it with her meat that tourists want to take pictures of it? I for once am looking for beauty. Beauty in the mundane, beauty in the everyday, beauty in a beautiful pig’s head.
Beauty is easy to find at the Pak Klong Talad, the flower market Bangkok, and one of the best markets in Bangkok. The only way to describe its beauty is “abundance”.
It is a casual one that abundance. Orchids piled up high, neat yet somehow carelessly, after all, nobody spent months raising these in a greenhouse. They seem not even to be of the same species as the one my mother had on her windowsill, which was touched with metaphorical gloves and always regarded a bit like royalty. These orchids are an orchestra of vibrant colors – crimson, burgundy, magenta, yellow, deep purple – and come in all shapes and sizes.
On my first visit, I found a stem with seven blossoms on the pavement that someone must have dropped. I picked it up and looked around to see if I could find the owner like you might do when finding a large dollar bill. Of course, nobody cared about the orchid and there was no owner. I took it with to my hotel, my day was made.
Roses are red…
You want romance? Get down to the flower market Bangkok, because this is the paradise of the long-stemmed red roses. Cheaper by the dozen and carefully wrapped to last longer than your long-lasting relationship.
Whether you like your flowers au naturel or in a bouquet or you need a bag of rose petals to go with your honeymoon phantasies, you will get lucky here.
For the more practical there are cut banana leaves ready to mingle with sticky rice over hot coals or offerings to soothe angered spirits. Jasmine and marigolds are wound to garlands, phuang malai, big and small that smell enticing and are a pretty version of Magic Trees in taxis.
I’m not sure I should buy some, after all, isn’t it the same disrespect as owning a Buddha for decoration when you are not a Buddhist?
Maybe I am overthinking it. They are also just flowers after all. Needless to say, the tourist girls on Kao San Road don’t share my hesitation, but then again, I don’t think they even know that flower garlands don’t grow on trees but out of the skilled hands of artisans at the flower market.
Needless to say, buying flowers when you are only visiting doesn’t make much sense. Neither do fresh flowers make particularly good souvenirs. But, of course, practical reasons like this wouldn’t deter me and so I get myself some to put on my balcony at The Asadang. This is a wholesale market in Bangkok but you can still get yourself something pretty and luckily neither did these practical reasons deter my friend to get me this for my birthday:
It didn’t come without strings attached, I had to promise her to get her a similar bouquet for her next birthday. Which I guess means we are going to Bangkok again, surely flights are cheaper than orchids in Germany…
The Pak Khlong Talaad, the flower market Bangkok, is located on Chakphet Rd and Soi Tha Khlong. If you are staying in the area, for example at Bangkok Bed and Bike, make your way over to the canal next to Asadang Road and turn left until you come to a big bridge/ crossing. Here go left again and then just follow the
breadcrumbs rose petals.