This Little Piggy Went to Market – In Thailand

Today was a day of incredible markets and unusual experiences. In Thailand like in most markets, they are not just a place to purchase food, goods and pick up desirables. It’s a place to commune, connect, and perpetuate community. This is more than evident in the markets we visited today.

First stop, the Maeklong Railway Market just outside of Bangkok proper in the Samut Sakhon Provence. There is no other market like this one in the world. The story goes that the market was originally on land that became too expensive for the merchants, so they decided to relocate to place that would be free, the railroad.

This market is set up on either side of the railroad tracks and when the train comes through (eight times a day) everyone has the clear the tracks and make room for the train. For shoppers this merely means moving out of the way. For the merchants this means, winding in their awnings, rolling back the carts that their wares are on (a foot or two) and then there are other items low enough to the ground that the train passes over them without harm. It’s a most unbelievable experience.

Once the train passes, awnings are rolled back out, crates with wares are rolled back into place and the shoppers are once again all a bustle. Everything you might need for creating a dish is there, vegetables of all sorts, as well as fruits, seasoning, fresh fish and seafood, meats of all kinds and young girls stringing the worship garland of marigold and jasmine that I purchased and wore around my neck.

The second stop was the Floating Market in Dameoen Saduek. We drove another half hour or so to arrive at the dock to take the long nose boat to the floating market. This is a canal that was dug by hand which is incredible to imagine considering the length of the canal. We were on a pretty fast moving boat for at least twenty minutes.

Two of the elements of both of these markets are the incredible heat and humidity and this is true despite the fact that we began our journey at 7:00 to avoid the height of the heat. Despite that the heat was quite intense a somewhat draining. Thank goodness for the air-conditioned tour bus. The other element consists of droves of people, locals shopping and tourist from all countless far away lands. The largest groups are tourists are from China.

Last stop wasn’t your usual market; it was small and was actually a cocoanut processing compound. At this stop we were taught how the cocoanuts grow, the many ways it’s processed for oil, to make sugar, syrup, soap, oil, milk, juice and of course we were able to purchase, fresh, young coconuts to drink. Most Thai food includes some element of the coconut. As a special treat for us, our wonderful tour guide, Nok, purchased some plantain bananas that were rolled in cocoanut shavings and deep-fried. It was very delicious.

At this stop we were also able to go inside of a traditional Thai home. Made of teak wood, these homes are on stilts to raise the house to avoid flood, to house the water catching device and because having the house high off the ground, makes for a cooler home.

Inside each home is a shrine to the Buddha, in varying degrees of elaborateness.   There are also shrines outside of every home and business. Each home has two shrines, a shrine to the land elements (soil, air, water, plants, all botanicals) and a shrine to the ancestors. The ancestors have their own home outside the house because they are not allowed to live inside the home; they have their own home.

The land shrine is on a single pedestal and the ancestor shrine is typically on six legs. There are offering made to the shrine daily of acknowledgment and prayers, incense burned, food offered and worship garlands made of flowers like the one I purchased. I wore mine all day long and was just enchanted by the fragrant aroma of the marigold and jasmine. I can only imagine the ancestors loving this fragrance too. It’s jasmine that is the primary essence in the Anu Essentials Sea Scape Perfume, a fragrance that has easy access to my heart.

Also, this home, market had many animals, monkeys, birds, roosters, dogs and a cacophony of insects, which made for quite the sound system.  We finally arrived back to the hotel and just as I was about to prepare for a nap, veteran globe trotter Kay called and asked me to go with her to an antique mall.  That would take a whole other blog post if I could even find the words to describe one incredibly fabulous store with antiques that are just mind blogging. That’s another post for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally there was a delicious dinner with my two veteran, globetrotting friends who planned this incredible trip, Kay and Patricia at the night market on the river front.  Yes indeed, the market remains a hub for people to come together, to be together, to live and enjoy life.

Keepers of the Planet

Your Weather Sistah here in NY on Climate Change:
I am at a loss, as many of us may well be, about those suffering from the impact of Hurricane
Matthew, particularly on the island of Haiti. How much more can the people of Haiti endure?
Eight hundred people and counting have died in Haiti as a result of Hurricane Matthew while the
island continues struggling to fully recover from the devastating Earthquake in 2010.

Snags at sea

I feel blessed to have personally escaped Hurricane Matthew’s wrath here in New York. After
Hurricane Sandy, we know firsthand what a hurricane can do. Florida, and South Carolina were
hit by Hurricane Matthew to different degrees but parts of North Carolina have been
declared a national disaster. It’s an illusion to believe climate change cannot make it to the
theater of life where we are participants. Because even if a natural disaster does not physically
hit home, you have got to know that what happens to one, happens to all of us on the planet.
We all suffer the consequences of climate change in subtle and in not so subtle ways. It is a
truth that when the earth is ill, its people become ill.

This planet provides all that we need from the earth: delicious and nutritious fruits, vegetables,
and a plethora of herbs to nourish and heal us. From the sea, we cannot count the multitude of
magnificent beauty and bounty. And from the floral world, we have the gift of experiencing the
most dazzling array of colors and amazing designs and fragrances. All of this has been given
to us by the Creator. It is ours to have, to hold, and to protect.

In my humble opinion, however, we are experiencing a correction. When there are wild swings
on the stock exchange, there is a correction. So too with the weather. We are witnessing
extreme climate swings as the planet makes a correction, to deal with the devastation and
pollution created by man. This devastation is the result of a voracious greed documented in the
rape, plunder and pillage of this planet. Quite simply, the extreme shifts are a backlash to the
cutting down of rain forests, fracking of mountains, extreme drilling of oils, and the spillage of oil
on the oceans. We cannot escape what has and is being done to this planet by the bad
behavior of its inhabitants.

I once saw a video of a fire that burns eternal, day and night in a river in Nigeria because of the
level of oil and population created by a US oil company. Water and fire don’t hang together
unless something is really wrong. That is an abomination. The people in the area have no clean
water to drink, bathe, or cook with and the land is unable to provide sustenance for its
inhabitants. This describes the circumstances of people in Haiti where crops have been
washed away this year and the island is suffering to support its people. These are poor people.
What are they do? In Nigeria, they have no power to bring this oil company to justice or to even
relocate. In Haiti, there is nowhere to go either.

Natural medicine
Climate change impacts the earth, the availability and cost of food, even herbs, oils and
botanical elements worldwide. It affects how I run my sustainable business as a perfumer.
Often I have felt powerless to do anything because I mistakenly believed there is nothing I could
do that would make a difference.

Do not let this feeling of powerlessness rule you. There are things we can do, big and small.
Something as simple as offering prayers and meditation for those who have been impacted by
these tragedies can make a difference.

In addition, we can all make sure we’re doing our part with conservation of energy, of water, of
fuel oil etc. We can refrain from buying fish on the endangered list, or meat that isn’t humanely
raised, seeded produce that is grown without seeds. We can seriously consider growing our
own food and herbs. If you have no land, consider joining a community garden.
If you feel moved to help Haiti and would like a list of organizations you can trust, check
Support Haiti. If you are already doing something, big or small, that helps sustain our
planet, please share it with us here.