The (not so) Real Bangkok: a visit to Ancient City

Back in October, Todd ran a road race in a park called Ancient City (you can read the post here). It was a pretty rad park, but we didn’t see much of it – Todd was too busy hauling his ageing body around the course, and I was too busy screaming “go haaaaaard!!” at random, baffled British children, and checking out the classy port-a-potties. We decided we needed to go back and see the park properly, so this past Saturday, we grabbed Vera (main talent: being a dead ringer for the Korean chick on “Cloud Atlas”) and Therese (main talent: thought manipulation) and headed for the park.

I was a little taken aback by the hefty entrance fee, but I got over it when I saw the awesome bicycles that the fee included:

Built for comfort (the bicycles, I mean)

A crocodile bicycle: my dream come true

Ancient City (Thai: Mueang Boran) contains replicas of a variety of Thai historical sites. From the official website:

  • Just a visit to the Ancient City is comparable to a Thailand-round journey within a day.
  • The layout preserves the pattern of traditional Thai lifestyles, which is hard to behold nowadays

Our visit was pretty short (we only had 1.5 hours before we had to head back to the stix), so I figure we made a quarter Thailand-round journey. Because of our short time frame (and my shorter attention span), I didn’t read many signs, so don’t ask me for a history lesson. I can, however, vouch for the ambience, and the coolness factor – both were right on.

The temple provides the ambience, the farangs provide the, uh, coolness factor

There were also a lot of fun statues in the park, including these fighting elephants. I cannot imagine anything more terrifying in battle than being hauled off your perch by an angry, flailing trunk.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll be safe if I hide by his massive, thundering foot.

This was another fun statue in the park – a bunch of horses and gods go to battle together. The best part of the statue was the artificial mist being released from the rocks.

So historical, it’s almost lost in the mists of time.

We bought fresh coconuts from a long-tail boat that was floating near the replica of a traditional village.

Peeping Tom Todd creeps on the villagers

I could handle living here

Unfortunately, Therese is almost as obsessed as Todd is with birds, and as soon as one flew into sight, they were all over it. Turns out Vera also likes a good chirp. They were throwing around terms like long-breasted-short-beaked-angry-footed-booby-clucker, so I meandered around and took a few more photos.

Not sure what it is, but it looks cool.

Also very cool. The gazebo looks really romantic from afar, but when you get closer, it’s full of carvings of angry, multi-headed snakes. Whatever does it for you.

I made Todd give me a ride on his bike to make up for the delay. This bike would be the ultimate family bike: you could put one kid on the front seat, and another in the basket. Now that’s what I call family time.

Unparalleled comfort AND style

Before we made it back to the entrance, I had to snap one last photo:

Vera looking picture perfect next to a replica of Ayutthaya

Ancient City filled us so full of Thai history (and birds) that we decided to give our culture-filled brains a rest, and went for Mexican food with our American compadres.

Hmmm. Not much history/culture going on here.

I’m guessing Ancient City will lure me back again, though – the combination of immaculate history and crocodile bicycles is just too much to resist. And besides, where else can you get a Thailand-round tour in just one day?

Off to the Races!

This weekend, a group of teachers and students from Todd’s school participated in a road race at one of Bangkok’s many unique, extremely fertile parks. Sadly, I am still gimped, so I didn’t get to run, but I decided to go along as a cheerleader: I have hauled Todd out of bed on many early mornings to cheer at my races (“Come on, Toddy! You get to wake up extra early and stand in the cold and the rain for multiple hours! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!”), so I owed him one.

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Gurrrl, this doesn’t even begin to cover what you owe me.

The race was put on by the Bangkok British international school, and I didn’t know what to expect – probably a few awkward clusters of high schoolers running around. Instead, it turned out to be a full-fledged, well organized road race, complete with sponsors and prizes. The distances were a little interesting – gotta love that classic 9.4 km distance – but other than that, it was a standard race.

Except for the bag drop in a railway (??) car

In total, there were almost 800 runners. I think every farang in Bangkok made an appearance.

Because apparently digging pain is the farang way

This being Asia, however, there were a few additional treats, such as the spunky lady leading warm-up exercises. In other races that I have attended, most runners are super serious, lost in their own worlds doing things like “stretches” and “strides,” but in Bangkok, people do group warm-ups, and they do it Gangnam Style.

Ahh. Nothing like some group exercises to get the blood moving!

After a quick trip to the ol’ hong nam (bathroom), and a quick scan of the swag tables that several sponsors were setting up, T-bone and his buddies were ready to race.

These broads are FIERCE

I wandered around the sewage scented parking lot for a bit (I’ve never been to a race that smelled so…aromatic), then decided to wait out on the course to cheer and snap photos. I can say from experience that no photos are more flattering than those that are taken as you hurtle your aching, gasping body towards the finish line. I was hoping that Bangkok’s heat and humidity would make the photos that much more attractive – I’m not one to disappoint a good teacher.

First up in the 5km was Li’l Buddy David, who was trying to maul the small children beating him to the finish line

Next up in the 5km was Lisa, who confirmed that running in a humid, sewage-scented park was a different ballgame than the treadmill at the gym

And in the 9.4 km, it’s our very own T-bone, who is looking waaay too perky. If you’re smiling, it means you’re not working!

And it’s Michelle and her muscles in the 9.4km. Lookin’ like the killer gym teacher that she is.

And right behind Michelle, we have Kim. She is looking confused, because David went in to high-5 her, but I shoved him out of the way because he was blocking my shot. Nothing gets in the way of my photographic dedication.

There didn’t seem to be any other spectators out on the course, so I was a one-woman freakshow cheering for everyone who passed by me. Some people seemed to appreciate this, but a few small child racers burrowed their faces into their parents shorts with fright. Those Brits organized a good race, but clearly they needed a dose of North American-style loud, obnoxious cheerleading to soften those stiff upper lips. Always happy to help.

After the race, all the runners mowed down on the interesting sandwich combos provided by the race organizers, and helped themselves to “face refresher spray” provided by one of the sponsors.

I love this photo. You can just hear the lady saying “What do you think this is?!?! A build-your-own sandwich joint?! Get out of my face, chicken legs!!”

All in all, it was a great day at the races, and a good chance for me to tick off 1 of the ten billion early morning support crew moments that I owe Todd.

Running rockstars