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Lumpini Park
By Trish Smith
24 September 2010

In the middle of Bangkok there is a large park called Lumpini Park. It’s a beautiful green space surrounded on all sides by several lanes of traffic and some very tall, grey office buildings, and it is a blessed relief to walk through the gates and into its lush, green, calm, peaceful heart.

At the crack of dawn every morning, thousands of Bangkok residents congregate there to salute the sun and run laps of the pond before the humidity and heat descend. I arrived there just before 7am and already it was so heavy with moisture that my camera lens took about twenty minutes to acclimatise and de-fog itself. I have all these pictures of people jogging through the early morning mist but actually it’s just my foggy lens.

There were many serious runners in the park. I almost got knocked for six by a team of four men who looked like Kenyan marathon runners on their seventh lap. They practically had steam coming off them.

A little slower but just as impressive were the groups of grandparents who shuffled along in matching t-shirts. I was really struck by how many older people were in the Park doing some kind of exercise, anything from aerobics to yoga to weight training.

My favourite sight was the two old ladies sitting on a park bench, apparently not quite up to walking laps but nonetheless were doing their triceps curls and leg lifts. Move it or lose it, ladies!

There was a group of people in yellow t-shirts doing Tai Chi. The instructors stood at the front of the group, their whole bodies drifting slowly in measured, flowing movements, like sea anemones swaying about in currents the rest of us cannot see. Honestly, I can sit and watch other people doing exercise for hours, it absolutely fascinates me.

A dozen women were standing in a line, spread out along a bend in the road, watching three instructors going through a simple but effective routine designed to get the body loose and blood pumping. The average age of the class members looks to be about 75, though it’s likely these people are well into their 90’s and just in incredibly good shape.


As I was leaving I saw a Clinic set up near the gates, and people were lined up to have their blood pressure checked and recorded in a register. What a fantastic idea! All these people, out and about and moving around in a city that, on the surface, looks a little unhealthy in parts. Ah Bangkok, I love you more and more each day.

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