Bangkok was the first stop on this first trip to Southeast Asia. Leaving Vancouver in early February, there were a couple of adjustments to be made: one was the substitution of sunshine for rain, and the other was crowds.
With an estimated 2015 population of 8.5 million people, you’re in the midst of a city that’s incredibly vibrant by both day and night. It’s a good thing the people are gracious and that the transit system is so effective, as it can whisk you above and away from one spot for a change of scenery in mere minutes.
We spent the afternoon of our second day in Lumpini Park, which is lovely. I think of it as this city’s equivalent (albeit smaller) to NYC’s Central Park. You have highrises and intense traffic (as well as Bangkok’s own SkyTrain system) in the background, and tucked in the midst of it all is an oasis of serenity – trees and waterways in the midst of all the hustle and bustle – in the form of this park.
This photo, taken on our way out of the park, is one of my favourites of the day. Watch the toddler mastering the steps from one family member to another, and the pride and love on the grownups’ faces.
First time visitors to the area will want to know that, for many areas in Thailand, you should either bring your own tissues or be prepared to purchase a little packet from the attendant when you enter the bathroom facilities. The packet of tissues cost 5 Thai Baht (THB), which is less than 20 cents in Canadian funds. As is the case in many parks, you’ll also be doing without hand soap unless you bring your own or some sanitizer. Having said that, not many bathroom facilities have lovely plants such as these in the entrance.
We saw body builders with their own neighbouring outdoor barber at work. You have coconut vendors, colourful fitness equipment, a running route and a swimming pool – for which foreigners must first go to a hospital and have their good health certified before being admitted.
Street food is huge in Thailand, and the man who served up these coconuts also sold delicious fried chicken. Light and not at all heavy handed on the batter, it was ultimately the best of this trip.
If you go, you won’t miss the massive monument to the King.
There are also sculptures such as this, installed in 1992 in honour of the Queen’s 60th birthday and known as A Mother’s Love …
… and temples and other buildings, snug in this city sanctuary.
Strolling through the park, we also saw turtles, swan-shaped paddle boats, and snakefish. We also encountered a large lizard, some interesting birds, and more than a few wild cats – who seemed uninterested in the birds, who also displayed no fear of felines. Here’s a look at some of those creatures.