View of the lake in Lumpini Park.
Today I decided to do a little self-guided walking tour through Lumphini Park to Lumphini Stadium, and take a little rapid transit to get used to all of the different lines. This city is quite easy to get around and all of the transit people are extremely helpful - and it's dirt cheap, as with a lot of things in this city.
Lumphini Park is a 142 acre park right in downtown Bangkok, and it's located about a 10 minute walk from my hotel. It has about 2.5 kilometres of paths that run through it where people come to walk, jog, or ride their bikes. There is also a small pool, tennis courts and an artificial lake in the middle where tourists can rent paddle boats and cruise around. There are also a couple outdoor gyms with some of the oldest equipment I've ever seen, and of course the odd pack of stray dogs, which seem to be commonplace in these parts. It's kind of their version of Central Park in New York and it's really neat to see this much lush, green space right in the middle of a city this big. I went down for breakfast around 8AM
The new "Super Fatherweight" Division.
and then started my adventure and there were LOADS of people running, walking, and riding at that time. There were also quite a few people doing tai chi, which seems to be very popular here. This was a good time to go because it wasn't too hot yet and I spent about half an hour walking through to the other side of the park.
I went out the far exit and continued down Rama IV Road until I got to Lumphini Stadium where they hold a lot of the muay thai boxing matches in the city. The way that it works here is that every venue has a stadium champion for each weight class and at the box office they had a poster up with pictures of all the champions. I had to laugh at the "Fatherweight" and "Super Fatherweight" classes (I'm pretty sure they meant featherweight). Right next to the stadium was a muay thai school so I ducked in to check it out because I want to train some while I'm here. It was called Petchyindee Muay Thai and the owner greeted me as I walked in. It was quite small and only had a ring, a
few free weights, and a small training area with mats, mirrors and four heavy bags. There were two guys around 15 or 16 training on the mats and there was a tiny little Thai girl working out in the ring with one of the instructors. The owner was very nice and he gave me a rundown of the prices and the training schedule, and also introduced me to a couple of the guys there that fight professionally. Muay thai kickboxing is Thailand's national sport, and the country has over 60,000 professional fighters. This gym was pretty tame by Thai standards and it looked like it catered mostly to foreigners rather than people wanting to train professionally but it was still cool to meet someone that fought for a living. One of the guys was from Brazil and apparently he was stadium champion somewhere, but it was hard to understand the owner's broken english. The Thai girl in the ring couldn't have been more than 100 pounds but she was a tough little thing. There was also a lady that had to be in her fifties but she was in amazing shape and was screaming everytime she hit the pads. I
Paddle boats on the lake.
sat and watched the training for about half an hour and then continued on with my tour.
I wanted to start and get used to the transit system here because it's crucial to getting around so I decided to take the trains back to my hotel. There are two systems here - the subway or the MRT which runs undergrund, and the skytrain or BTS. In order to get back I had to take both starting with the MRT so I headed underground to try it out. The way the trains work here is you can either purchase a ticket for the day or a pass that you can just load up with baht whenever you need to. I already had a BTS pass so I bought an MRT card and loaded it with 500 baht. What you do is put your card on the reader, the gate opens and you walk to your train. When you get off at your stop you swipe your card again and it charges you depending on how many stops you've taken. To give you an idea of how cheap it is, an average train ride with a few stops may cost you
50 cents. I took one stop on the MRT and I think it charged me about 15 cents. What a novel idea, being able to ride the train for pennies and only paying for how much you've used. Vancouver could definitely learn a thing or two from Bangkok that's for sure. The maps are very easy to figure out so I took it one stop and then switched over to the BTS for my ride to the hotel. The district I'm in is called Ratchadamri and the stop is only a 5 minute walk to my hotel which is going to be a great convenience.
It was really nice out so I decided to change and head back to the park for a quick run. My friend from back home told me I should just go for a beer instead and I probably should have taken her advice, because I didn't realize how hot it was until I started actually running. There weren't nearly as many people in the park at noon and I soon realized why - HEAT. I think I lasted about 20 minutes before I had to pack it in, but I learned my lesson -
run in the morning.
That's it for now, until next time...
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