By Siwanit Phattanarat
If you happen to be in Chinatown anytime after six p.m. do
yourself a favour and walk up Maharat Rd. As you approach
Saphan Phut Bridge you are likely to notice a distinct change
in the air. Allow yourself to take it in
.sniff the air.
In place of the sometimes acrid odours that rise from the
Bangkok drains, are the delightful scents of jasmine, rose,
lily and marigold. It is a fragrant oasis in Bangkok. A place
where the gift of smell is a pleasure.
This is Pak Klong Talat, the biggest flower market in the
city. Every day as the bite of the hot sun dissipates, the
roadside of Pak Klong transforms into a kaleidoscope of bright,
blooming colour as vendors, receiving floral goods from each
flower growing area of the Kingdom, meet to trade.
The floral feast is truly engaging for flower lovers. In
addition to roses, daisies and chrysanthemums are other more
fascinating blooms unique to tropical climates. Haleconias
grow with copious numbers of different flowers and the orchids
spill magenta, tangerine and canary tresses of bright colour
on to the street.
The plentiful water supply in the provinces of Nakon Prathom,
Samut Sakon and Samut Songkram to the South-west of Bangkok,
nourishes thousands of farms; hundreds of which produce millions
of flowers every year.
By Western standards the prices at Pak Klong Talat are miniscule.
Newspaper bundles of 50 roses cost as little as 30 baht; armfuls
of fragile orchids are priced at 20 baht. Even the European
flowers cultivated in the cooler areas of Chiang Mai and Chiang
Rai are sold at very reasonable prices.
The aromatic occupation of selling flowers offers excellent
job satisfaction to the people working there. Khun Chatchai
has been selling jasmine, lotus and roses at the market for
four years. "I have my own farm in Nakon Prathom. I inherited
the land from my father who used to grow vegetables. I started
to grow flowers because I prefer them. They make me feel peaceful.
They are also quite easy to look after and people always want
to buy flowers."
Khun Mali has been patiently threading phuang malai, Thai
garlands, for nine years. "I order the jasmine and dok
ruk (calotropis) from someone in Samut Sakon. In nine years
the market has become much busier because now we can grow
flowers from cold countries up in Chiang Mai, where I come