Thursday, April 17, 2008

Real or Plastic?

Flower garlands, known as "phuang malai" พวงมาลัย in Thai, add to the tropical Asian feel in Bangkok taxis. Strings of jasmine, along with carnations, roses, and other colorful flowers make the cabs smell nice. But, you shouldn't take a sniff before you give them as an offering to Buddha (or to anything else sacred) - the scent is reserved for the receiver.

There are some taxi drivers, however, that prefer a brightly colored silk or plastic version. These drivers apparently appreciate the longevity of them, but, of course, they're lacking the exotic aroma (even if you're technically not supposed to smell them). The artificial garlands serve the same purpose as the real ones, but, considering they're used as a gesture of respect, they just don't seem to carry the same genuine feeling. If you ask me, they're the equivalent of a fake smile. And in a country that dubs itself, "the land of smiles", that's not a good thing.