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Working in London, I like to think I’ve got a fairly good grasp on parks. Joggers, dogs, trees, football, the occasional squirrel to make it feel like the countryside. I’m ok with this stuff. You even get the odd curve ball, an out-of-place bird or two that has escaped from a collection at some point. You can see Parakeets in Kensington Gardens, Pochards in Regents Park and Egyptian Geese outside the Dagenham Canoe Club. If you stretch your imagination a little, you might even come across the extremely rare wombles of Wimbledon common.
So you get my point. Me + parks = not shocked.
Well that was until we arrived in Bangkok!
We’d decided to stay near Lumphini Park so we had a tranquil bolthole away from the noise of the city. We’re both country-folk at heart, and big cities like this can be a bit overwhelming. So having touched down, and had a quick sort out we headed out into the early evening humidity to have a wander round.
It’s a beautiful place, filled with the energy that Bangkok is famous for. Whilst the city’s noise comes from tuk-tuks, electricity pylons and mopeds, Luphini’s air is filled of the sound of exercise. Crossing the main paths here is almost as difficult as weaving between 5 lanes of traffic on the roads, but the cars are replaced with joggers. Every patch of grass has something going on, whether it’s badminton, Tai Chi, or even the lost art of Pokemon catching.
The main noise however was coming from the intersection of two main paths around the park. An open air workout session was taking place, with nearly 200 people sweating away to a dubious fusion of Thai melodies and dance beats.
But lets now move onto the main point of this story.
Parks are an oasis of calm in big cities. They exist to give people a place to relax and unwind. They’re not meant to be a filled with surprises.
Becca and I took up residence on a little concrete bench looking out over one of the lakes
Now I know what you’re thinking – a typical Brit abroad. What happened mate? Squirrel try and nip your ankle? Seagull try and grab your crisps?
Well I don’t think it’s an overreaction to say that this was a bit more of a big deal than that.
Scroll down and see for yourself!
Here be monsters.
Out of the water in front of our little concrete bench emerged a group of these monsters. Snarling, scratching monsters, tails lashing with eyes fixed right on us.
Ok, so it didn’t happen quite like that but it was certainly a shock. I’d seen monitor lizards like these before on the banks of rivers in Africa, but it’s not something you’d expect to come across in a city with a population of nearly 8.5 million people!
To be honest they seemed more interested in chasing each other round than they did coming anywhere near us.
I calmed myself in the knowledge that at least I could hop up the tree behind us if I got into any trouble.
It turns out that would also have been a mistake.
Not only can they swim, these buggers can climb to. It’s a wonder the human race hasn’t been wiped out sooner.
Well either way, the Thais seem to like them. Monitor lizards (or hia) are a sign of prosperity in Thai culture, with the caretaker of the park Tawee Somnamee quoted in a recent article as saying “If a hia goes into someone’s room, they will become rich”.
Ok, so I may have overreacted to them, but I think that’s pushing it a little too far!
As night drew in, we took a few photos on the outskirts of Lumphini, and battled our way alongside the busy streets back to our apartment.
Our first few hours in Asia certainly reminded us just how far from home we are!
Interested in visiting Lumphini Park?
- Opening times 0430-2100
- Metro stops: Lumphini exit 3 or Si Lon exit 1.
- Skytrain: Sala Daeng exit 3 or Ratchadamri exit 2.