Pak Khlong

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Thai chiles and hairy rambutan

The Pak Khlong Market in Bangkok offers a wide range of Thai chiles. Photos by David Lansing.

Walking through the Bangkok flower market was giving me a headache. All those perfumey smells wafting in the hot, humid air. So I walked and walked and walked until suddenly the market transitioned into long, dark corridors with giant bamboo baskets filled with cabbages and ginger root and, of course, Thai chiles. Lots and lots of different Thai chiles. From “oh-my-this-is-hot” to “HOLY-CRAP-MY-MOUTH-IS-ON-FIRE!.” Some of the chiles were so hot that just walking past them made my eyes water and the top of my head sweat.

I turned a corner in the market and now I was in the fruit section: Thorny red rambutan, finger-size bananas, bumpy custard apples, mounds of unpeeled lychee and longon, and those baby Thai pineapples that, I think, are the sweetest and tastiest in the world.

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Bangkok’s flower market

Bangkok flower market

Bangkok’s flower market is open 24 hours a day but the best variety of blooms can be seen around 9am every day. Photos by David Lansing.

I’ve been to some of the biggest flower markets in the world—L.A., New York, Paris—but the Pak Khlong flower market in Bangkok just blew me away. It wasn’t so much that they had just about everything, from Dutch tulips to 5-gallon bags of rose petals, but that it was all so incredibly inexpensive. Big bouquets of orchid sprays, almost too large to hold in your fist, cost a little over a dollar; two dozen perfect pink roses were $3. And those big bags of rose petals? About five bucks. Imagine being able to toss thousands and thousands of fragrant rose petals at a wedding reception for the price of a Big Mac Supermeal.

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