(the explanation for this photo is given later below) After a browse through the Bangkok Post’s website I came across the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Khlong Toei which was opened in 1991. A place I had cycled round a fair few times as there’s now an enormous artificial lake with a gardens and a walkway. At one end is the large convention centre with several plenary halls for hosting various exhibitions. The site itself used to be part of the Bangkok Tobacco Monopoly. Now it is a place of natural relaxation, communal vistas, and grandiose displays. Anyway, there was a listing for the Pet Expo 2013. As I need very little excuse to go anywhere in Bangkok, I dialed up Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist, corralling both him and his niece’s boyfriend to come with me. In the meantime, the Professor and the niece tried something a little more erudite over at the United Nations.
A swift five minute cab ride later, we were deposited at the entrance way with its somewhat ironic “No Pets” greeting. We quickly found our way in. Standing in a very short queue we became aware we were being doused with small black particles. A glance up revealed the stinging rain was coming from the air conditioning units which were venting particles that cannot have been healthy for human ingestion. Duly alarmed, we rushed forward to pay our 20THB ea. and then hopped up the staircase into the exhibition…
…inside it was a mixture of small animal farm and pet supplies. Some of it was fascinating. There was an enormous rabbit “hutch” that was actually a ship about 4mx6mx3m. Next to that a full scale hamster run that was made up to be a mixture of the world’s iconic places. These hamsters could happily gambol on railways, roads, a race track, even a Ferris wheel. I took some pictures which are below. I saw some creatures I had never seen before, like the Fennec fox, the Viscacha Plains, the Mexican Red Knee tarantula, and the Leopard Gecko. I got a close up of a particularly evil looking scorpion. There were the usual warren of rabbits, a few geckos, dozens of dogs and cats. But it wasn’t just the animals themselves that astounded me, but the paraphernalia. I saw dogs in pushchairs! Every type of creature comfort and luxury.
Want a Barcelona T-shirt for your cat? No problem, sir. Right this way. Roll up, roll up.
It was also good to see this unarguable message. Not one you tend to see in the West, admittedly, it seeming a fairly obvious statement. But clearly one that is needed to be said here. At this point Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist noticed that there was also a “Well Being and Health” exhibition going on so we left the Pet toilet behind and sauntered curiously inside. It was a a mass of stalls. Some had nothing to do with “Well Being and Health” as they just sold shoes on the flimsy pretext that shoes = walking = exercise = health. Others were interesting. Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist tried some honey, laced with mushroom liquid. We both tried some 120THB Robusta coffee named Khaothalu. This is a coffee (I love coffee, by the way) both grown and cultivated at temperatures around 25-28C, the plant reaching about 6m in its natural tropical habitat. Considered to be more disease resistant than its more commonly used Arabica cousin, it comes from the west coasts of Africa, harvested after 11 months. Here it is grown in Krabi, Ranong, Chumphon and Surat Thani. It was mixed with an incredible amount of sugar, thus negating the taste of the coffee itself, which I was interested in, yet clearly had a caffeine kick as we proceeded to accelerate round the place. Here’s a shot of some rice and the mushrooms. Why? you might ask. Well, why not?
After sampling these delights and finding amusement in a stall named BS Organic Foods (yes, all their items are BS) we realised the Convention Centre was hosting auditions for The Voice (Thailand). I was desperate to coax Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist to audition but he waved me off, pointing to some Thai words I know he made up, suggesting “Professionals not allowed”; then distracted my attempts at persuasion with:
“Oooooh, look. César dog food presented on silver trays.”
Next to the delectable presentation was a large cardboard poster of a dog that has made it as this blog’s opening image. Incredible dental work…but the norm in Thailand. The entire visit took us about an hour, we didn’t really stop to ask questions or buy anything, but it was an interesting excuse to come visit a place I had wanted to tick off my list. Canada’s Finest Jazz Vocalist told me he had crossed off item #776 from his Life Bucket List with the PetExpo so it wasn’t a total loss. We headed out on the MRT towards Silom where a protest was going on. People with placards wearing the “V is for Vendetta” neo-Guy Fawkes masks marching down Silom singing something I didn’t understand. A fair few police around. So….a morning of some interest. The Diplomat and I don’t have a pet in Bangkok (nor are we likely to get any) but it was my first visit to a Pet Expo and The Voice auditions. These are just some of the side benefits of tagging along for the ride…
Is this what diplomacy is all about?