Goodbye Flower Market

One of the things that’s most astonishing about Bangkok is how quickly it changes: new buildings seem to sprout up like mushrooms at night. It’s nice to be in a city so dynamic, though often the changes seem rather poorly thought out: new buildings tend to be ugly condos or unnecessary malls. The sole criterion for permission to build would appear to be having money; and while Bangkok is a very densely populated city, it’s easy to kick out residents if they’re in the way of your plans.

So it wasn’t entirely a surprise when it was announced that the Pak Khlong Talat flower market near Saphan Phut (previously) was going to be closed at the end of March; developers have belatedly realized that riverfront property might be where it’s at. A little bit further up the river the malodorous shrimp paste market near Wat Pho was kicked out last year; the fish market up the street from us is living on borrowed time. It’s hard to tell what’s actually going to happen at the flower market: the city would like vendors to move to other areas, including a sanitized and undervisited new mall along the river.

The market does most of its business in the night, as there’s an enormous demand for fresh flowers in Bangkok. But plenty of vendors were still there this morning:





It’s not all flowers. There are a fair number of fruits and vegetables on sale:


Here are some flowers:






Denizens of the Balcony

So some time last year we went to the aquarium store down Chan Road and we acquired an aquarium with a handful of guppies. The guppies proved to be surprisingly resilient, there were baby guppies, some of the guppies were eaten by birds, and now we have three guppies. They had names but I forget what they are. In January, we got an eel named Hannibal but then, as they say, a bird ate her. After that we bought a tiny turtle who was named Rosella – at many riverfront establishments in Bangkok you can buy various aquatic creatures which you then release into the river to make merit and/or feed the catfish. Rosella has not been eaten by a bird and has in fact thrived. She is a Chinese soft-shelled turtle, a species notable for its rather extraordinary plumbing.

We’re mostly feeding her turtle food. But we thought she might like a change, so we went to the aquarium store and attempted to buy five tiny shrimp, which appear to be the variety known as dancing shrimp. There was some confusion and we ended up with five baht worth of shrimp, which meant about twenty-five of them. So we dumped them in the tank and they terrified Rosella, who was not interested in eating them, and the fish, who felt like they’d already been through a lot with the introduction of Rosella. These sort of shrimp evidently like to jump, and many of them jumped out of the tank, and were presumably eaten by birds. But now we have about ten of them, who are getting bigger and bigger.

But after all of this, the tank started getting dirty, and so we decided to solve this problem by acquiring a sucker fish, also from the aquarium store, who has been named Mrs. Primrose. Here is the whole tank seen from above:


And here is Rosella and some of the shrimp:


And here they are again:


And here is Mrs. Primrose:


She is kind of terrifying, it’s true. We hope she does well and that we don’t have to clean the tank out so often now.