There’s a park near where we live, Lumphini Park. It’s a good size, 142 acres, and its a welcome rural retreat in this concrete jungle where you buy knock off, there’s nothing you can’t get. The day we visit the park, I slather the kids in sun cream, prepare the Liberty Bag (contents: water, sunglasses, wipes, hats, small toys and snacks *bribes, sun cream – this is a daily ritual and we usually forget something crucial and pay the meltdown price).
The park is luscious and green and vast, in fact if you google image Lumphini Park you’ll see just how green it is. You may also see some ‘buff hunks’ lifting weights outdoors, a bit of Tai Chi group activity – I’m told you can join in, but I’m definitely airing to the side of hysterical on the zen spectrum. Look further down the photos and wtf!? Giant lizards emerging from the lake and scoffing turtles, all 8ft of them! So you can imagine my anxieties at exploring the park on my own with the kids, no James to protect us/shit it with us, especially considering the only films on our movie channel seem to involve creatures turning on humans, Shark Hunt and Piranha Nights to name but two. Patti is fearless, she can scale a bookshelf and chew on a razor in the time it takes to make a brew, and Abe’s really into all creatures great and small (not the tv series about a vet, I doubt it would be fast or sweary enough for my son these days). I have daymares about them both gleefully charging into the open mouth of a terrifying reptile, ‘look mummy, it’s a real dragon’. Alas, we don’t witness any lizards, just the odd jogger (‘odd’ being the word, it’s 35 degrees FFS people), a couple of prostitues fine-dining from the carts at the roadside, women’s bodies with men’s voices and feet. It’s sweaty, it’s hot and humid, there is no breeze.
There are hoses on the back of trucks, circling the park, watering the forestry, it sprays us, it’s pleasant at first, then I recall my wise friend’s warning: whilst visiting Bangkok 10 years previously, her father accidentally ingested Songkram (see previous post) water during fight time, he lost 4 stone in 2 months through illness, Kampala Bacter. I remember her parents cautioning us from their quaint cottage kitchen. “Close your mouths kids” I bark. We meander through the park, pass a little place of worship, then I spot the familiar bright plastic through the trees, our place of worship. “Park!” Abe is happy to have called the first sighting, he was waivering like a lowly sniper in the thirsty desert, though spotting a luminous yellow wavy slide through some bushes is hardly sniperesque. Thank Buddha for that! We wind down a few paths towards our target zone, the kids red faced even though I’m the one exerting, we park up, they take 2 steps into the play area and the whining starts: “sand in my toes, sand in my toes”, “I no like it, I no like it.” An Australian woman gives me a head tilt to show her understanding and pity, she offers, “it’s hot, hey?” This is parental endurance testing at its finest. I try to channel the endurance skills of Eunace Huthart, the scouse Gladiator circa 1994. I never really liked the show, and we give up and go home.
We return to our temporary home like survivors, a whining, sweaty mess of a journey precedes – up and down high kirbs, besides shit smelling sewers, negotiating the busiest roads, not knowing whether the direction we’ve taken is the right one. We make it back, we eat Philadelhia sandwiches and rehydrate with chocolate milk. I look at my filthy newly blistered feet, and throw socks into the Liberty Bag.