Today is our last full day in Thailand, we leave early tomorrow morning so it is truly the end of our vacation. All that is a long way of saying we're starting to get tired so we had a slow morning with a relaxed breakfast after which we decided to tackle some of the packing early. These things take planning and with all the things that people asked us to get for them we've had to purchase a second shared bag.
But out excitement of the day came when we left at nine o'clock for Chatuchak Market. Yes we were there on Saturday but today we are just going to meet up with a gentleman I knew by reputation but have now had a chance to meet in person, Mr. Preecha. He is a retired English teacher who has spent the last few years really focusing on his first love, betta, also known as Siamese fighting fish. Mr. Preecha is a respected authority and travels all over Asia to judge fish in massive competitions and we were invited to visit his breeding facilities.
From Chatuchak it took another hour to reach his place which is out in the country nestled between to rice paddies. Under netting and shade cloth is his operation. Along one side are some thirty two hundred old whisky bottles with a horizontal cut one third the way through to allow water to drain out packed into neat little rows. Each bottle houses a single fish and the bottles are so tightly nested that he can walk across the top of them. Every so often there is a bottle that is marked with tape or turned upside-down, this denotes that the fish between are all from the same spawn and it allows you to see the variations produced.
The other side is occupied by row after row of round concrete basins. Along the top is a drip irrigation system that is constantly running and in the middle projecting from the bottom up to the top almost even with the rim is a drain pipe. This is designed to keep a constant but gentle flow of water as there are dozens if not hundreds of fry in each. Some are tiny and others are almost adults but he has dozens of nurseries.
At the front is a long room where the betta get paired with their mates. There must have been close to a hundred pairs and in each the males are courting the females by displaying their massive tails and swimming in circles around her. Even though there are neighboring males clearly visible they only have eyes for their intended mates. Some were colors I have seen before, others are totally new and Mr. Preecha was quite excited for the possibilities that might arise from the pairings. He also showed me some that he considered a work in progress because he is breeding for specific physical traits that are only slowly emerging.
It was really interesting. On one that the sheer scale was impressive and it is obviously labor intensive but most of the work that goes into it seems relatively straightforward. Betta, for all their beauty, are relatively simple fish and in the native environment their care is easy. Needless to say I am intrigued by the possibilities...
As it was getting into the afternoon we decided to adjourn for some lunch. Mr. Preecha took us to a great place on the river. He said it was his favorite place and I can see why, the view was amazing and the food was spectacular. Two different kinds of fish served as a stir fry and as a soup; both were spicy and flavorful. An interesting dish of nuts, lime, coconut, herbs, and chilies was delicious but unfortunately was served towards the end of our meal so we didn't really have a lot of room left to enjoy it.
With an errand to run Mr. Preecha dropped us off close to the market where we hailed a cab back to our hotel. Much of what remained of the afternoon was spent planning and gathering of belongings together so that our early morning departure doesn't require much in the way of additional work. When we got hungry we popped over to Khao San Road for a quick bite to eat and a little last minute shopping.
Now we're getting cleaned up and packing away the things we won't need again until we get home. I know the heat was a bit of a shock when we arrived and I suspect the cold will be similarly traumatic especially because I probably don't have the most appropriate clothes for near-freezing weather. Shorts and flip-flops are what most people wear, right?
Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 35/f1.4R
35mm, f2, 1125 sec @ 200 ISO