Thailand Travel Mart Plus: A day in Bangkok

06-08-2015 1:08 pm
By: Christina Newberry is on location in Thailand this week for the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2015.

The annual event, launched in 2001, connects more than 400 travel operators and service businesses from Thailand and the rest of the Greater Mekong Subregion (Cambodia, Southern China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) with buyers from around the world, including several from Canada. Representatives from Ontario include CAA South Central Ontario, Voyages Club Aventure Travel and GLP Worldwide Expedition Travel and Tours, while JBC Travel, Silk Holidays, TourChoice  Services and World Travel Management are on hand from B.C.

Before attending the TTM+ opening reception last night, media guests (including spent the day exploring Bangkok with Tourism Authority of Thailand representatives. First was the Pak-Klong Market, the largest wholesale and retail flower market in Bangkok, which also does a brisk business in produce. After a quick peek at the rows of stalls selling garlands, roses, herbs, and fruits and vegetables, it was off to the Amita Thai Cooking School for a lesson in Thai cuisine.

Students travel to the school in a long-tail boat along Bangkok Yai Canal, passing traditional local riverside homes on stilts, temples and vendors in boats out selling their wares. When the boat pulls up to Amita’s private dock, host Tam is waiting, along with her “staff” birds: Soy Sauce, a rooster, and Basil, a Mynah bird, who wishes guests good morning and does a mean impersonation of both a cat and an ambulance.

Amita is housed in a residential complex of six houses with an extensive herb and spice garden. The school teaches cooking six days a week with a maximum class size of 12. “This is the best souvenir from Thailand,” Tam said, suggesting travellers host a Thai cooking party when they return home to share their new cooking skills with friends. After watching Tam and her cousins give an in-depth and passionate demonstration, the group cooked a meal of papaya salad with coconut rice, satay with spicy peanut sauce and green curry chicken in coconut milk. Bellies full, it was time to head to the IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Centre for the official opening of TTM+.

The TTM+ opening reception began with a welcome message from the Thai Minister of Tourism and Sport. “Welcome to the land of smiles,” Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said. “I think they have gathered the best of Thailand for you to enjoy our country in one night.” The minister added that TTM+ has embraced new themes for 2015, including Muslim-friendly travel, ecotourism and community-based tourism.

“Tourism is the best way for people to get to know this part of the world,” she said, adding, “once we are friends, we are friends for life.”

The room was divided into three areas to match the evening’s theme: from folk Thainess to royal Thainess. In the folk area, guests could learn to make a traditional folded carp from palm leaves; in the walking street area, guests sampled street food; and in the royal area, they could learn to make flower garlands and admire a royal barge.

All of these activities fed into the main theme of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s current campaign, which invites visitors to “Discover Thainess,” and the overall TTM+ 2015 theme: “Experience with Us.”

Check Monday for a full wrap-up of TTM+ 2015.