King Rama IX’s Paradise Park

This week, I went on a much better, less insulting trip than my excursion to the orthodontist. I can’t say that it totally erased the experience (Moms? My face isn’t that crooked, right?), but it came close. Todd took me to the mystical land of the King Rama IX park.

Is it just me or does this look like it belongs in the Capitol in “The Hunger Games?”

The Thai people love their King. I mean, the word “love” doesn’t even begin to describe what they feel for him. Sometimes this is touching – I’ve seen several people tear up when they talk about him – and sometimes it is slightly bizarre – the King’s song is played in all movie theatres before the movie begins, and everyone stands at attention. T and I have found that all this devotion has started to wear off on us, and when we discovered the King’s park, it blossomed into love.

(here is a link to the King’s song that is played before every movie in the cinema) (UPDATE: looks like this link has been censored – not sure if this is disturbing or cool…)

Bangkok is short on green space, to put it mildly. We live on the outskirts of the city, and so we get to see a bit of green, but it is generally filled with dogs and rotting vegetation. We were extremely excited to find the King’s park, which actually contained grass (or at least a pretty good imitation of grass), plus a swimming pool, tennis courts, numerous gardens and epic/free fitness equipment. Some of this equipment is fairly standard, if a little rusty:

T-Bone works it out Thai Style

and some of it is a little more “intriguing.”

A back-to-basics Nordic Track – it’s got everything but the traction

There are also loads of mirrors, in case you forget what you look like.

Nice form, t-BONE

There are also aerobics classes for elderly women available for purchase. Getting fit enough to join keeps me committed to my fitness plan.

We went for a run in the park and and were excited to discover that there were Thai runners there too – probably the first time since our arrival in Thailand that we have seen locals move at a pace that is faster than “meander.” And for the first time, no one (openly) laughed at us, which was an unexpected treat.

In my effort to avoid malls but still get out of my apartment (fortunately, a good dose of turpentine is currently masking the eau de sewage),*  I have spent extended time in this park. This has been lovely, because it enables me to engage in my favourite activity: wandering around in a coma-like state. I can successfully achieve this with no aids, but throw in a balmy day at a perfect park, mute 2 of my 5 senses with sunglasses and earphones, and I am lost to the world. I wandered blissfully around, soaking in the essence of the place.

The Chinese garden

Listening to Debussy on my iPod completed the dream. His pentatonic creations were composed for days in the King Rama IX park.

A section of the English garden

And the dreaming turned to hallucinating when I saw these friendly fellows in the Japanese garden

The only problem with wandering around in a trance is that I tend to notice the concrete reality of my surroundings even less than usual – this is great for the artiste in me, but it can be a little more dangerous for the part of me that lives in the material world. This is especially the case in Thailand, where I am not well acquainted with the flora and fauna. A few wasps who looked like they had ingested steroids interrupted my reveries,  but it was meeting this sucker that really woke me up:

A monitor lizard – he missed the memo that dinosaurs are extinct (not my photo, but we saw one almost this size)

Apparently they aren’t interested in eating people. Apparently.

The only other real menace in the park are the cyclists wearing spandex and doing laps. For some reason, whenever they passed me, they politely yelled “Hello.” Flirting upper-class Thai style. Every time this happened, I stumbled out of my reverie and into the gutter.

I got ready to re-enter crazy Bangkok with a few more stretches on my favourite traction-less Nordic Track.

Gotta get limber before I join the aerobics class

*still waiting for my official documents from my alma mater to arrive. Aaargh.

7 thoughts on “King Rama IX’s Paradise Park

  1. That small asterisk is a camouflaged clue to your real preoccupation! However, nice enough place to be distracted, if rather civilized.

  2. Hey ruth. Just want to leave a comment to let you know that I am creeping your blog. No not just creeping but loving it. Your adventures plus writing style equals serious entertainment. I hope your docs come soon!

    • I know! When we first saw it, it was partially submerged, and we could not figure out what it was – I thought it was a massive snake, and my husband thought it was an alligator. His students set us straight. Just one more reminder that we ain’t in Canada any more!

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