Thailand

A visit to Bangkok’s Pak-Klong-Talad flower market has far-reaching impact

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At Bangkok’s huge Pak-Klong-Talad flower market, a florist weaves tiny, fragrant flowers into garlands, garlands and crowns. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

A visit to Bangkok’s sprawling Pak-Klong-Talad flower market can be compared to much of Thailand.

In the historic old town on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the market is colorful and fragrant, not far from the must-see Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Smiles were on the faces of the florist as they carefully folded lotus petals and strung fragrant jasmine flowers into garlands, in typical gentle demeanor of Thailand, known as the “Land of Smiles”.

The flower market craftsman is surrounded by lotus buds and gently opens the petals of the buds. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

I wanted to make the most of this shore excursion on the last day of my 32 day cruise with Oceania cruise line Nautica and learn more about a country I last visited 20 years ago.

I know that flowers play an important role in the lives of the Thai people, who buy fragrant garlands to hang on their car mirrors for good luck with Mae Yanang, the Goddess of Journey, on chaotic roads. Flower arrangements are ubiquitous in hotels and restaurants, and they can be given as offerings or as gifts. Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of orchids, which cost less than a dollar.

Fragrant florets are made into garlands that can be hung around the rearview mirror for good luck. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

The sprawling flower market, with more than 3,000 vendors, is most active in the early morning hours, when chilled roses, orchids and lotuses arrive from the cooler northern provinces and tourist-friendly businesses flock to buy them. their flower arrangements. But Pak-Klong-Talad is open 24 hours a day and is a lovely place to stroll when you wake up jet-lagged at 1am.

Not far from the equator, Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world, so it makes sense to plan your trip early.

The reverence many Thais have for the monarch can be seen on the streets of Bangkok. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

Marigold garlands are popular in religious ceremonies because of their name, “dao ruang,” which means prosperity in Thai, and their yellow color is associated with Buddhism.

The lotus has significance in the Buddhist tradition as a symbol of enlightenment. Legend has it that where the little Buddha stepped, lotus flowers bloomed. When a flower is only partially open and its center is hidden, it means that enlightenment is at hand.

Extract the lotus petals from the buds and fold back carefully. Buddhists believe that no matter where the little Buddha steps, flowers will bloom. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

My enlightened daughter, who joined me on the cruise, came home with the ultimate souvenir — a lotus tattoo on her upper back.

A freshly opened lotus tattoo is a permanent souvenir in Bangkok. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

The shore excursion on board followed our guide through the flower market’s maze of narrow passages, walking carefully so as not to slip on the wet floor. At each stop, the guide explained to us what we were seeing and what it symbolized, and pointed us to where to go next. The ship limits the number of people on shore excursions to make groups more manageable and ensure everyone has a good experience.

Early in our visit to the flower market, I told the tour guide that I would stop to take pictures and maybe get away from the crowds sometimes. She promised not to lose me, but just in case, she pointed out where we would meet up for a tuk-tuk ride to the nearby Wat Pho. Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled open vehicles suitable for two people to travel short distances on the crowded streets of Bangkok.

I had been to Wat Pho earlier on my trip to Bangkok and saw the reclining Buddha, but at the time my focus was on the Thai massage school there. The Wat Pho complex was founded in the seventh century when it served as the headquarters of the country’s traditional medicine, which includes massage that tones the body’s meridians. While many people find Thai massage painful, I enjoyed the two-hour massage and returned to Wat Pho several times during my two-week visit. Massages are performed on subjects who are fully clothed and lying on the padded floor of a large gazebo. A two-hour treatment costs about $10 and requires an appointment. Unfortunately, the time allotted for shore excursions did not allow me to indulge this visit.

A giant reclining Buddha draws tourists to the Wat Pho complex along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. (Janet Podolak – Herald News)

The huge reclining Buddha was added to the Wat Pho complex in 1849. Made of brick and plaster but covered in gleaming gold leaf, and 150 feet long by 50 feet high, it is almost incomprehensible and even more difficult to photograph. Buddha’s feet alone are 16 feet long.

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