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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The floating market of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Damnoen saduak on a mapWhen evoking Thailand, there are images that immediately come to mind: the sparkling golden temples and statues, the turquoise of the beautiful southern beaches and the thousand colors of the traditional floating markets. I have long dreamed of discovering this rally of long and narrow boats overflowing with colors of the fruit and flowers. As you apprehend a floating market, you become lost in a checkering of channels, on board a sampan and living from within the swarming atmosphere of life, flavors and scents.

Although increasingly rare in the capital, the floating markets are still very popular in the country. Despite the fact that the majority are artificially recreated for tourism needs, the market of Damnoen Saduak is well-known to have preserved its authenticity and remains today one of the most famous floating markets of Thailand.

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Le Piment Thaï, un goût et un parfum irrésistible

En déambulant au cœur du marché de Pak Khlong à Bangkok, il est un ingrédient qui attira mon attention plus que les autres par son omniprésence; se parant d’un vert sûr, d’un orange alerte ou d’un rouge carminé le piment thaï était de tous les tableaux. Inutile de rappeler la vénération des thaïlandais pour la gastronomie, qui fait de leur cuisine l’une des plus pimentées au monde et ce grâce à ce petit protagoniste qui sait surprendre le palet.

Importé d’Amérique du Sud par les Portugais et les Espagnols vers le XVIe siècle, le piment thaïlandais est aujourd’hui la seconde variété de piments les plus forts et les plus piquants au monde (après les habañeros mexicains). Par conséquent la consommation de piment en Thaïlande est la plus élevée parmi tous les pays asiatiques et probablement l’une des plus importantes au monde.

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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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