On the nose

This is the most beautiful time in Bangkok. For about 6 to 8 weeks we will have very pleasant temperatures. Since I walk to the office, a luxury in Asia, this matters quite a bit. These days I can enjoy every step on my 20 minutes walk to work.

This walk is also a good training for the nose. Yes, you red right, the nose. You agree with me that the nose is a very important organ for any wine connoisseur. The first thing you do when tasting a wine is swirrling the wine. Your nose trys to catch the fragrances emitted by the liquid. Most of our noses need regular training. Well, let me come back to my walk to the office.

If I could only close my eyes when walking (too dangerous though) it would be even more striking. Taking the nose on a walk in Asia is quite an adventure, one might think. That’s true. However, my morning walk takes me along two busy Sois (Thai for street): Thonglor and Ekkamai and Soi 10 which connects the two.

The nose in action

This means that about 80% of the route is boring for my nose, just the fumes of the passing vehicles, some petrol notes maybe, mostly tar and lots of dust. In the evening I have started to wear a mask because it is just too tedious walking along the traffic jam. But that is very different in the mornings (I am an early bird). So the remaining 20% of the way are interesting; half of it pleasant, half of it not so pleasant.

First highlight is the Chinese chicken restaurant with two large pots on the gas stove full of chicken meat bubbling in the water with, I guess, “Sichuan spices”. Then I pass by walls and large gardens tucked behind them. During this time of the year not many plants are flowering but still my nose is on high alert sniffing for the scent of jasmin or other blossoms.

Just before I turn around the corner, I greet the “barbecue” man, roasting various types of meats, some on skewers, sausages, chicken wings and so on, on his mobile cart as breakfast for the passers-by. Here my nose catches notes of charcoal, burning fat and skin, the smell of freshly cooked meat.

Around the corner is the next highlight, the Chinese noodle shop, warm smells of steam engulf my olfactory organ, freshly hacked herbs add corriander fragrances. One lady sells fresh fruit and vegetables as well as freshly baked sweets for the casual wanderer. If my nose is lucky it can capture a fragrance of tropical notes and the aura of fresh bread.

But before I come to the the dim sum place, usually still closed when I pass by, though the trays under steam, I have to pass three locations where the garbage of night clubs and restaurants is kept on the pavement before it is collected in the morning. Here the nose finds aromas of decomposing organic matter which is a sweet-sour smell. This is sometimes a challenge.

The worst places are those where dogshit, many urbanites keep small dogs as pets, accumulates. The Thais being very tidy people sweep the walkways daily. As a consequence the danger to step into dogshit is not that big. However, the pungent and acrid smell of canine turds is another challenge for my nose. The odour is very strong even if the source of it has long disappeared from the scene.

The last stretch is lined with beauty salons (there are so many), which from time to time let a fargrance of lavender escape from the parlour. An executive “supercars” dealer, night clubs (zillions), bus stops and a computer laboratory complete the row of building I have to pass. Finally, comes the dim sum place but only on my way home will my nose be in the position to indulge in the aromas of the fine dumplings.

Nose training, I recommend it. From time to time close your eyes and trust your olfactory organ, and enjoy, as we say in Asia. Cheers folks. I am off to a drink, red wine, I suppose. Have a good weekend and a nice smell.

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2 Responses to On the nose

  1. Zhen Liu says:

    Could you please tell me how do the wine connoisseurs train their noses?

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