Visiting Bangkok in November, it’s cooler than the usual summer weather highs, definitely a weaker winter sun. It’s time to join the city folk for a bit of late afternoon time out in Benchasiri Park, a complete oasis off the sometimes manic Sukhumvit Road. Green, lush green, manicured and obviously much loved by all the people enjoying its restorative calm. Toddlers, weary looking executive types, teenagers skipping and using the outdoor gym equipment, a cluster of smartly uniformed school children welded to their phones, a cat, squirrels chasing one another up palm trees, some swings, a lake, joggers. The smaller kids are all playing quietly, which only becomes obvious when one toddler has a tantrum.
Every city needs green space to let us escape, even if just for ten minutes. A calm prevails, people smile at one another in a way that just doesn’t happen in a mall, along a pavement, waiting for the BTS sky train etc. Those ten minutes in a nice green city probably reduce your city blood pressure too.
And, lucky enough to have another holiday to Bangkok six months later, we fight our way to Benchasiri Park during the late morning. Fighting our way with flu – it has knocked us for six, and the walk there was a bit of an effort, even though we were staying only a few sois away. As an incentive, the sun is stronger and hotter than November.
We are approached by some teenage schoolboys pointing their phones in our directions, as if they are wanting us to be their selfie friends. No thank you to that.
I sit it out on a park bench as walking around the lake is really too much for my flu raddled body. My mum doesn’t surrender though and goes off, looking at all the park sculptures on her way.
As we are about to leave, two teenage schoolgirls approach and ask whether I will answer some questions for their school project about visitors to their city. They are superpolite and their spoken English is top notch – they ask whether it is okay to record the interview. Yes, and I answer away; randomly, they have found someone who has visited their city frequently and knows a fair bit about the country. They have hit school project gold! Girls one, boys zero.