Thailand! everything about it is grand, the enormous airport, the grand palace gleaming in gold and coloured glass, the Wat Phra Kaew with the pride of Thailand-the Emerald Buddha, the old markets, the huge shopping centres, the numerous street food stalls, the legendary Oriental Hotel, the heritage Jim Thompson House with all the antiques, the beautiful white sand beaches, the breathtaking coral reefs, Amazing Thailand it is!!
Here’s a few things that made me love Thailand and left me craving for more.
The narrow streets, the old Chinese people, the markets, the road side food stalls were a treat to all the senses: the odours of Fish and Chinese cooking, the sound of Mandarin, the red and golden Chinese lanterns, the Chinese letters on signboards and the taste of traditional Chinese dishes.
The monk bowl village (Ban Baht) in Chinatown is one of the only village like settings left in Bangkok with old immigrant Chinese families living huddled together. In this ‘village’ are made the traditional monks’ bowls used by Buddhist monks for collecting alms. These bowls are hand made from scratch and every stage in making the bowl is done in a different house. The whole village contributes to the making of the bowl. The workshops are spread out throughout the village and going around to see the different stages in the bowl making was a tour into the narrow streets of the village with men, women, children and cats going about their daily chores outside/inside their homes. Unfortunately there are more tourists than monks who come to buy the bowls these days.
From here we continued into the narrow streets of Chinatown and stumbled upon a covered Chinese market. A mixed odour of spices and fish hit us as we entered this fluorescent lit go-down. The small stalls sold fish, sea food and vegetables: raw and cooked-ready to eat, spices and red hot chillies, tamarind and turmeric. People were busy in their routines: cleaning, peeling, cooking and chatting oblivious to us tourists snapping with our cameras trying to be discrete. We finished our tour in Chinatown with a taste of Traditional dishes from the market sitting on a table on the street in one of the many food stalls outside the market watching an old Chinese man clean fish for his customers.
Snorkeling in Koh Samui
It was my first time Snorkeling. I was so excited when we got on to the boat to speed off to the coral reefs into the Gulf of Thailand. When we stopped, I felt panic, we were in the middle of the sea and I had never gone swimming in the sea before. I had starting trouble adjusting to the mask and getting over my fear of the Deep Blue. I was glad for the life jacket to begin with but I soon gave it up for want of more freedom. Once I got the mask right, I discovered the magic. It was an experience I was never going to forget. It was like peeking through a window into another world – observing! This is what it must feel like to be invisible. The beautiful coral reefs sometimes white, sometimes purple, blue and green were home to a variety of fish. When I was quiet enough, schools of fish would come out of hiding, the crab(I thought was a rock) would pop its head out of its shell and move its claws. Yellow, blue, green and orange translucent fish swam around us and nibbled at bread crumbs out of my hands and occasionally at my fingers. Some were too shy and contented themselves with the falling crumbs. It was surreal as though for a short time I was part of the under water world, swimming around with them admiring their colours and observing their way of life.
The Night Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat)
The popular night flower market in Bangkok opens its stalls at around midnight and closes around 5 am. The flower market spreads over a kilometre with stalls on either side of the street and a large covered wholesale go-down. The stalls sell flowers of a large variety and many colours and baskets of Dragon Fruit: white jasmines, chrysanthemums of all colours, yellow and blue sunflowers, Pink lotus, Red, yellow, orange and pink roses. As we walked through the market we saw people putting up their stalls, some making bouquets – a hundred, identical with the same flowers, some packing roses and sunflowers, trucks loading and unloading baskets of flowers. This market supplied flowers to all the florists and grand hotels of Bangkok.
Our last image of Amazing Thailand, the night flower market, resplendent flowers competing with the starry night reflected in the Chao Phraya river.