Sunday, August 4, 2013

Running in Thailand #1: Bangkok's Lumpini Park

In my "Running in..." series, here is an easy one. If you look at Bangkok's map, there aren't that many green spots around and some of them are actually either horse tracks or highly secured official buildings, none of them opened to us, runners. Both based on running routes found on the web and recommendation from my IBM hosts, Lumpini is definitely the place for a run if you are staying downtown.
Most of the international hotels are within a 1-mile radius from the park. The park is composed of a large lake, tropical vegetation and a wide 2.543-kilometer road around the lake.
Yes, the marking is down to the meter at the start and end of the loop with a large sign every hundred meters too.
What really surprised me the most is that I ran there both early morning and at mid day and I couldn't believe the difference it made. Not from a temperature standpoint as it was hot anyway in the morning but from a park traffic standpoint: unlike most of other cities, the park is crowded at 7 am and nearly empty at 1 pm. That reminds me why we see so many Asian people walking at Rancho San Antonio at 6 am in Cupertino, healthy early birds...! In such a morning crowd you found a few runners and joggers but hundreds of people practicing T'ai Chi or other forms of exercise and aerobics in large groups. The outdoor version of our "occidental" gym... Organized the Asian way with certain times for bikes and rollers.
The other reason I mention this major difference beyond the indication to let you pick the time you want for your run is that the deserted hours leave the grass fields and lake banks open for very strange animals, huge and impressive reptiles coming out of the water to claim the park back (the park is closed from 9 pm to 4:30 am). Look at this tongue...!
They have the strange name of Water Monitors or Varan malais in French. Given the cohabitation, I figured that these beasts must be armless until I saw one tearing apart a huge fish with his teeth, oops.
There are water fountains in the park but it is recommended to only drink mineral water in Thailand. If you are not carrying your own bottles, there are a couple of vendors you can purchase water from. With the temperature and humidity, just keep in mind to drink a lot! There are also several public restrooms, I believe they ask for 5 Bahts (~15 cents).

And for those who cannot visit, here is the link to a few pictures in my Picasa album, enjoy the tour! I ran a marathon at the end of the week and ended it by returning to the Lumpini park once more, so you can check my next post too for additional pictures of this perfect and optimal running spot in Bangkok. Come back to the blog and visit more of this city which never sleeps but always smiles! :-)
PS: for those who don't exactly situate Thailand (my case before this trip), here is a map showing the ASEAN countries, some really having convoluted boundaries, starting with Thailand.


Anonymous said...

I used to run there 2x week when I lived there usually in the evenings. Police with whistles make sure everyone leaves promptly;)
Most water vendors are at the Sala daeng/Silom entrance and you can get a shower (scuzzy byo soap) for 10 baht or less.
Nice run but hard concrete surface - another place expats run is the national stadium next to mbk ...

Jim said...

It's a really nice place to run. Not far from there is Benjakiti Park, which is also a great place to run or cycle. You can join both parks together in a single 8.3km circuit if you follow the green mile – in the north west corner of Benjakiti Park, you'll see a little alley. Exit the park that way and there will be an immediate left turn onto a walkway over some water. If you just keep following that "green mile", you'll bypass all the roads in-between the two parks and end up coming down some steps to a car park immediately outside Lumpini Park.

Don't forget that if you are running at 8am or 6pm everybody has to stand still while they play the national anthem!

Jean Pommier said...

Thank you for the additional tip, Jim, much appreciated in case I visit again, or for other readers! And fro the anthem tip (while the country mourns the King for a year, I assume).

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