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A walk in Tirta Gangga garden

Situer Tirtagangga sur une carteOn each trip, I always try to spend time visiting a garden. Nothing beats a bit of relaxing time spent in the company of indigenous flora, which always says so much about the place that you are in. I like to be surrounded by a plethora of different species, and allow the quiet to surround me, while I keep my nose alert for the smallest hint of an interesting scent.

It was in Bali that I found maybe one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen; the splendid Tirta Gangga gardens in East Bali. Literally meaning “water of the Ganges” in homage to the sacred river, Tirta Gangga is famous for its sacred spring water, which has been spouting from the east Balinese mountains for centuries. In 1946, the last Raja of the province of Karangasem decided to honor the spring by building next to it a palace surrounded by a remarkable garden.

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The flower market of Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Facing the north coast of the island of Hong Kong is Kowloon Peninsula. As the second region to have been urbanized, Kowloon is now recognized for its high residential density of above 30,000 inhabitants per square kilometer. One of its main areas, Mong Kok, is one of the densest in the world, with numbers of up to 130,000 inhabitants per square kilometer.

Numbers like these can make us dizzy, but it is here, in the heart of this popular overcrowded neighborhood, that I discovered the images I had imagined I would find in Hong Kong: huge buildings with blinding signs, crowded streets of people jostling and pushing for space, all bathed in various odors and vapors in a deafening hubbub!

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Visit to an orchid farm in the Ratchaburi region

Situer Ratchaburi sur une carteOnce you move away from Bangkok, the city is slowly replaced by a quiet and stereotypical countryside. About two hours’ drive from the tumultuous capital, we head west, to discover the Ratchaburi region, to meet a true empress of the plant world: the orchid.

Undeniably associated with Thailand, the orchid flower has always been a part of the lives of the Thai people. Adorning religious offerings and embellishing culinary preparations; participating in the art of beauty and well-being rituals, and decorating many public and private places. Majestic, symbolic and subtly scented the orchid has become, due to its presence, both a symbol and a source of national pride.

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The Pak Khlong Talaat market, Bangkok

In the early hours of the day, I lost myself on the edge of Chao Phraya, on the streets of Pak Khlong Market, the largest market in Bangkok. As the first rays of sun appear, the streets slowly come alive and exciting smells begin to awaken the olfactory senses of sleepy visitors.

Buds of jasmine, lotus, tuberoses, roses and bougainvillea mingle with mountains of orchids, towers of frangipanis and baskets of carnations. As I navigate the array of flowers, soaking in their thousand perfume scents, I see a woman sitting on a small stool wearing a colorful tight-fitting apron, her hands dancing with graceful dexterity as she prepares flower necklaces, baskets and various offerings. I do not know where to turn; everything is so beautiful, everything smells so good, there is an oasis of colors, and an overpowering fragrance that only such a unique myriad of smells entwined together can create.

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