Bangkok is a luxuriant stage of colours and aromas. The olfactory spectrum can range from nauseating smells to heavenly essences, or even to polluting fumes that are to be avoided at all costs. One way to avoid the toxic city fog is to concentrate our travel by water. The obvious choice may be one of the many boats to travel along the "mother water," that is, the Chao Phraya River, using it as the spinal cord of the myriad canals of this Venice of the East. Right at dawn and with a traditional triangular hat on my head, I had to pass by the "Temple of Dawn", the Wat Arun, for me the most beautiful in the whole city and which shines particularly bright at dawn. But at my scheduled destination, there were other smells and colours.
6:30 AM. Right on the banks of the river several children walk up and down, apparently amazed by our presence at that hour, smiling and waving as we pass. A mist hung over the river as we waited for a smaller boat to arrive and take us to the Taling Chan floating market. When the other boat arrived, the driver tuned our engine and in no time, we were on our way. The morning mist lifted as we approached and, like a curtain, unveiled the market to us. It wasn't even 7 a.m. and the market was in full swing. The larger boats remained stationary, while the smaller ones came and went to buy or sell whatever they needed. Each boat was full of whatever it was selling. The wooden barges were overloaded, rather, absolutely stuffed to the brim with bananas, mangoes, pineapples, melons, corn, pumpkins, and lots of fetid durians, the famous jackfruit family that smells rotten soon after it's encased. Everywhere you looked you found another perfect picture. Old women in colourful clothes rowing in the nervous boats, young women with white shirts and covering their fists, men sitting cross-legged with worn faces, and people shouting from left to right and offering whatever they had on board while cutting and chopping fruits and vegetables. In the makeshift stores on the banks, hundreds of incense sticks were burning. Their sweet, balsamic, amber smell mingled with the freshness of hanging orchids and the sweetness of ripe fruit. I just let myself get carried away by all the colourful and fragrant surroundings, taking pictures and smiling at any face I caught.
The Taling Chan floating market is thankfully not very touristy and is known to be the best place in Bangkok to get a real Thai massage. Just one more peek at the variety of colours and incredible smells, one last look of wonder at the wonderful way of life of the locals on the water of the canals, and we finally entered the massage establishment we had previously chosen, the "Zenvana". I had previously imagined the place as a dark den, full of dubious characters worthy of appearing in the opium dens depicted by Hergé in "Tintin - The Blue Lotus", but it turned out to be a truly tranquil oasis, an antithesis of the city of Bangkok and the hustle and bustle of the floating market. I tried a Thai massage therapy that combined yoga stretches and a deep massage of the muscle tissues. But after a few years, what I remember best is the quiet twilight atmosphere, rich with details of worked cedar, and the sober and meticulously clean beds. Truly unforgettable was the haze emanating from the balsam-tolu burners arranged on little tables dotted with fragrant vanilla and star anise pods, and which offered us continuous drinking of an inviting steaming black currant tea. Even today my memory recalls that very intense whirlwind of intoxicating smells and my soul longs to return to Taling Chan again.
The dense, humid atmosphere of Bangkok called for only fresh, light fragrances. Yet the smells of the city only suggested Yves Saint Laurent and Opium pour Homme Eau de Parfum
to me. The city and the perfume invade me with the omnipresent balsamic, amber and sweetly fruity Tolu balm. At the opening, I find a strong aroma of black currant, indecisive between fruity sweetness and fresh acidity that marries wonderfully with a sweetly warm star anise note. In the heart, pepper and galanga hold our attention and amplify the balsamic and vanillic base.
On the perfumery road, this perfume is a milestone for the boldness and seduction with which it engages us. It simply arrives, settles in, embraces us and holds us indefinitely. I just wish it would stay with me forever.
As an unconditional fan of this perfume, I can only highly recommend it. It is a sweet oriental perfume, and blunt enough to draw all the attention around you. However, its pungency and intrusiveness can take the uninformed wearer by surprise. Preferably try it before buying it.
Music: Joaquin Rodrigo - Concerto De Aranjuez, adagio