In a world that’s increasingly globalised and homogenous, it’s a nation’s unique experiences and wonderful eccentricities that travellers seek out. This is why the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) campaign to promote “Thainess” has caught the imaginations of local and international visitors alike. They find this Thainess evoked in the kingdom’s vibrant culture and local festivities; the stunning tropical landscapes and islands; the traditions and wisdom.
All of these elements are also encapsulated in the culinary and visual arts, which have been created by the Thai people for centuries. What’s more Thai than a serving of scented Hom Mali Thai rice served in elegant Benjarong ceramic-ware. What can bring Thainess to your taste buds faster than the sweet pineapples of Phu Lae. Such Thai products, foods and experiences, built on centuries of experience and expertise, are unique to the nation.
Now there’s a move to protect these Thai products, by registering them with a Geographical Indication (GI) to ensure they retain their high quality and remain ever associated with the Thai communities that create them.
Geographical Indications have long been used in Europe to identify products as coming from a particular region where their quality and reputation are well known. For example, EU GI laws ensure that Champagne from France’s Champagne district, made in the traditional way, the only sparkling wine that can call itself Champagne.
Many Thai products are now seeking GI registration from Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property. And there’s a drive for distinctly Thai products to be given the EU’s Protected Geographical Indication too, so they have protection and greater international renown.
To promote such Thai GI products and foodstuffs, a market has been opened at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem called “Thrilled with GI Products, Enchanted with Community Identities”. Open until till 27 September, the market offers a chance for visitors to acquaint themselves with Thai products holding or seeking GI recognition and to talk to the people who produce them.
As with many things Thai, it is the sheer variety of offerings that astounds. Seeing so many goods brought together in one venue from all over the nation is a colourful reminder of just how much the kingdom can offer. There are piles of potted skin scrubs made of tropical Thai fruits; reams of rich silks and fabrics woven into vivid traditional patterns; sumptuous Celadon ceramic ware from Chiang Mai; handsome handmade furniture and beautiful baskets made of woven palm-sugar leaves.
Visitors find themselves surrounded and tempted by all the colours and scents of Siam – little wonder so many people leave weighed down with shopping bags.
GI food items are particularly popular at the fair and this is an area that will benefit most from having GI status. One thing that all visitors take home from their travels in Thailand is a love of the kingdom’s cuisine – Thai ingredients are finding welcoming markets abroad.
The skills of Thai farmers and their fertile lands ensure that foods of the highest quality are produced. GI recognition ensures that the hard work of generations of Thai people, who have helped perfect these products, is recognised while establishing a high-quality benchmark. Famous Doi Chaang coffee beans and Thai staple, Jasmine Rice in a range of varieties are popular take-home products at the market.
The sheer number of Thai products means that not everything can be showcased at once. Visit the market up to the 13 September and you will find products from the North and Northeast of the kingdom on display while from 14 to 27 of September, goods from the Central, Southern and Eastern regions are showcased.
But it’s worth seeing both rounds – you not only get to buy products at good rates, but there’s also the chance to enter a raffle (27 Prizes in 27 Days) with every 100 Baht you spend. Prizes including return flight tickets are up for grabs.
There’s also daily entertainment and a range of tasty foodstuff to be enjoyed alongside the canal. So pop down for a pleasant day out and surround yourself with some of the uniquely Thai riches of the kingdom.
The “Thrilled with GI Products, Enchanted with Community Identities” market, at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem near the Thai Government House will be open from 1 to 27 September, 2015, from 10.00 – 19.00 hrs.
The Market area is easy to reach by taxi. The nearest MRT Station is the MRT Hua Lamphong Station, and there are complimentary shuttle boat services at Charoen Sawat 36 Bridge in front of Hua Lamphong Railway station daily from 11.00-20.00 hrs.