6 June 2024

Pak Khlong Talat market is well known as Thailand’s biggest market for fresh-cut flowers from across the country and from other parts of the world, such as the Netherlands. Any kind of flower you can imagine, from colourful orchids, lilies and jasmine, to Dutch roses and tulips and grandiose floral arrangements are available at wholesale and retail prices.

Since its closure on May 22nd, at the order of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the market has, however, become a ghost town, especially at night, when it used to be energetic and bustling with vendors, workers pushing push carts loaded with fresh-cut flowers being unloaded from trucks and customers looking for the freshest blooms.

Chakrapetch Road, which used to be lined around the clock with flower stalls on both sides, is now deserted. All that are left are a few tents, manned by city police, erected to enforce the closure.

Some vendors say that they have had to improvise, by selling online or by delivering, to make a living, adding that they have no idea when the market will reopen, because the BMA only announced the market’s closure “until further notice”.

A few vendors, who are also orchid growers, complain that the market closure is like a double tragedy for them, because they cannot export their orchids and, now, they cannot sell the flowers locally either.

Other vendors say that, since they are mostly middlemen, they are not as badly affected as the flower growers, who have to cut their flowers when they are about to bloom or leave them to wither when they cannot sell them.

Many vendors suggest, however, that the BMA should vaccinate vendors and workers, so the market can reopen quickly, after infected people have been separated.

During the closure of the market, city officials have been conducting a census on the number of vendors and workers at the market, to enable proper management and to prevent illegal immigrants from working there, who may unknowingly be carrying the virus.

Active screening of over 2,500 people at Pak Khlong Talat and other markets in Bangkok and nearby communities, since May 7th, have found 262 infections, including 88 Thais and 174 foreign migrant workers.