Going to Lumpini Park we were on a mission to find the monitor lizards (dragons!) James’ dad had captured on film and my friend claimed to be able to smell when we visited during the street fair.
We entered the park through the wrong Subway exit so had a nice jog across the street to avoid the various scooters and cars on the road, entering near a stand of bicycles for rent. We debated renting, but in the end thought it better to take the park by foot to find the beasts.
We circled the park keeping to the canals and were soon successful. Lounging by the water were two large monitors, and so the millions of pictures began.
With our quick victory, we were able to relax and enjoy the other great amenities of the park, like the 10,000 crows (slight exaggeration), Thai dancing, row boats, and even a symphony in the park.
Lumpini Park was created as the first public park in Bangkok, by King Rama VI, in 1925. He named it “Lumpini” after the birthplace of the Buddha in the Lumpiniwan district, in Nepal. The park is active with locals and tourists alike, on bike or foot. It took us nearly 9 months to go there though because it had been a main rally point for the protest and we thought it best to steer clear.
The December Street Fair pulled us in finally and all signs of the protestors were gone. The street fair had acts from around the world, jugglers to puppeters, to other performance artists. In truth, we were bored by most of it and instead took to playing with a sling-shot toy that was purchased for under a dollar. The toy launched a light up into the night sky, creating beautiful arcs of light and amused me for quite awhile. That night we kept an eye out for monitors but did not find any so decided to return during the day.
Returning an afternoon, there was a thick layer of smog and few people so it made it feel like early morning. The crows bathing perhaps also added to that ambiance. I found it hysterical the way they splashed huge amounts of water as they shook their head in the small puddles (again, millions of pictures here).
We wandered through the park, spotting more lizards hanging out near the water or on the grass. They appear to wander freely, unmolested by visitors, and so were generally indifferent to us. Of course, we also saw one man with a stick chasing a lizard, so they are probably not completely indifferent. He explained to James that the lizard was after cats that lived in the tree, which made sense as the lizard had started pulling itself up the tree and was sticking its long neck into a hole when the man charged. No other lizards appeared to have such an exciting day.
With the day winding down, we took to the row boats, which I’m sorry to say are dumb. Why would you want a boat where you go backwards and are forced to be reliant on someone to navigate you or constantly turn around? As I am the world’s worst navigator, James would also agree with this assessment, as he nearly rowed us into a water feature. I could see and hear it, so it didn’t occur to me he couldn’t. (I did mention it as he was nearly on top of it, so crisis averted.)
We switched halfway through and I devised a method of rowing forward so I could tell where I was going. I also received a round of cheers from some middle eastern women who apparently found it hysterical that I was in charge of the rowing. They applauded me from their swan boats, clearly a better choice.
We left the park to the sounds of the orchestra. We’d stayed and listened to a few songs but the night was getting a bit cooler and we were hungry after all of our rowing and exploring.
While Bangkok is basically a city with few trees and tons of buildings (and even more scooters), there are a few places in town offering very nice greenery and a break from the noise. Where the Green Lungs remain my favorite, Lumpini Park is now on my radar as a wonderful place to go and see some dragons among the trees.