June 13, 2013

Bangkok Thailand - Lumpini Park

Everyone loves Platinum Mall. The ultimate ASEAN hub for wholesale clothes. Who doesn't love a bargain!
The lure of the recent real estate rush brought me back to Bangkok again, a city which I have not visited for almost 10 years. The primary mission for this trip was to visit some of the potential property investment. My secondary mission is to figure out where are some of the best spots to run, in this crowded and vibrant city.



I took the recommendation of a female friend and we bunked at a small hotel, right in the middle of the Pratunam Market, within the midst of crooked and narrow streets, filled with streets vendors and small shops. The problem with this location, is that it is quite far away from the nearest BTS or MRT and the streets are so narrow, that the taxi drivers do not like to venture to this part of the town. It is however, the perfect location for ladies who are looking to spend their days doing shopping at the Pratunam market and the nearby Platinum Mall. However, it is definitely not ideal for a guys, whose interest lies elsewhere, other than shopping.

To add to the misery, the monsoon season is in full swing and it rains ceaselessly. The uneven pavements of Bangkok started to pond (Singapore Government description of a flood) and wondering along the streets of Pratunam became quite miserable.

I was hoping that the rain will let up someday to allow me to enjoy a run, around the city.

I was pretty blessed on the second morning in Bangkok as the weather held early in the morning. I strapped on my shoes, and made a beeline for the most well known park in downtown Bangkok. Lumpini Park.
The Street outside my Hotel
Navigating pass the street vendors of Pratunam

I must be the only idiot who is pounding along the streets of Bankok hoping to get a workout...

I ran past locals, enjoying their breakfast by the roadside stores, feasting on a meal of porridge and noodles. I ran past vendors, who are just setting up their wares for the day, preparing for the rush of the tourist crowd. Everybody was staring at this strange man, who was jogging past them, pretending to be in a hurry to get to some place, in full jogging gear....

I gave them the, "I am in a rush to queue up for the latest Hello Kitty plush toy promotion in Mcdonalds." look and pretended that they do not exist....

In general, the streets of the main shopping belt of Bangkok is still relatively empty at 7am despite all the activities that was going around me and there was no big crowds that were hindering the pleasure of the run. The dreaded traffic lights along the way posed little threat to the me too, as I just dashed across the street, just like everyone else, ignoring all the traffic lights in general.

The Streets of Bangkok at 7am
The crowd clears up once I left the main
shopping district. They have nice cycling paths
to jog on.
The street market outside the entrance of Lumpini Park
The gate marks the entrance to Lumpini Park
My Bangkok friend gave me some pretty good advice on navigating on the streets of Bangkok: "Just drive, walk in a straight line and ignore the traffic around you. They have learnt to avoid you."

By this time, I was thinking that the city dwellers in Bangkok were a bunch of unhealthy fellows, as there was absolutely no other joggers in sight.

As soon as I stepped into Lumpini Park, I realized where all the joggers were. They were all working out in the park!

It seems like most of the Bangkok residents will drive to the nearest park to do their workout, unlike Singaporeans, who just strap on their shoes and run along whatever pavement that is available around the neighborhood.
Map of the Park

Joggers everywhere! Nice broad pavement!
Worn out work station
Lots of interesting things to see in the park
For those looking to serenade a girl on a swan boat in the middle of a lake
That is one way to dispose of excess bread!
Wow. A food court inside the park!
The park was bustling with activities. There were numerous joggers of different age and size. There were a also few groups of elderly folks practicing Taichi and locals working out on rusty looking public workout stations. The amenities were old and worn out as compared to the well maintained Singapore Parks, but I see many locals making do with whatever they have.

Just as I was enjoying the sights of Lumpini Park, with Kelly Clarkson "Stronger" blasting in my earphones, all the activities around me suddenly just ceased.

Everybody just stopped running and stood in attention...

I screeched to a sudden halt by this strange phenomenon.

Through the loud blast of music on my earphone, I heard a soft music in the background. I plucked the earphones from my ears and heard what I assumed, to be the Thai National Anthem, being broadcasted all around me. Nobody moved for that few minutes...
Thai National Anthem being played.
No disrespect to Thai but I just have to snap
a quick photo.

Wow, just wow. I am sure if this culture is being duplicated in Singapore, people will be complaining a waste of time and a loss of efficiency. Joggers will be complaining that the national anthem will be disrupting their pace, preventing them from achieving their personal best timing.  


The activities resumed as soon as the music faded away and the joggers in Lumpini Park resumed their running, as if nothing had happened. To me, it seemed like someone pressed a pause button, went for a toilet break, and resume watching this movie called "Life in Thailand".

This is when the most tragic of accident occurred. The ground was wet from the rains and I was trying to avoid a puddle of water. I skipped across a small pond and as I land,  my shoes skidded a few feet as the rubber sole was unable to find traction on the slippery pavement. No, I did not land on my face, thanks to my dexterity and superior balance, but I did ended up with a sprained ankle. This moment was especially tragic, because I was due for a 10km Pocari Sweat run 2 days later.

Nursing a throbbing ankle, I wondered if I should continue my run back to the hotel. It hurts slightly when I run but it is probably thanks to all the adrenalin buildup that the pain is not killing me. I decided to end my run for the day and check out the roadside food vendor for breakfast.

Besides, nobody jogs along the streets of Pratunam.
Breakfast! Bits & Pieces of a Pig ^^



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