A Day in the Park
Named after the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal, Lumphini
Park, the principal greenbelt of Bangkok, sprawls around
two lakes and features a statue of Rama VI. The soil in
this park is used by Thais for jogging, and Chinese for
practicing Tai Chi Chuan. Superstitious people can be seen
drinking fresh snake blood and bile to keep ill health at
bay, purchased from stalls along the park’s northern
edge. One also sees Thai families in their best dress, Chinese
playing chess and impromptu games of takraw (a type of volleyball
in which the hands may not be used). This is the place where
Russel Vogel was guided to fill the soil container for Common
Ground 191 in the capital city of Thailand. Fortunately,
Bangkok, situated on the equator, was undamaged by the tsunami
of December 26, 2004, so one can picture this lovely park
and its activities enduring. However, 5,000 souls have been
reported killed in the country of Thailand at large.
The Kingdom of Thailand is
a constitutional monarchy, formerly known as Siam, in Southeast Asia. In the
royal palace chapel, the “Emerald Buddha” holds
a position of dominance, and trained elephants are used for a variety of tasks,
including battling enemies, with spear-throwing soldiers riding atop. Elephants
have also been trained to play musical instruments. Thailand
is a geographically diverse country—a heart-shaped fertile plain, where
most of the people live; a region called the Khorat Plateau, a high red sandstone
plateau, and a southern extension into the peninsula of Malaysia and Myanmar.
Burma lies to the west and northwest, Laos to the north and east, Cambodia to
the southeast, and Malaysia and the Gulf of Siam to the south. Thailand is one
of the five Pacific Rim Tiger Nations, with a GNP higher than most of its neighbors.
Thailand is the only country of Southeast Asia that has never been a colony of
a European power; even when pushed by the British and French, it kept its independence.
Thailand is home to thousands of species of birds, some of the most beautiful
in the world. The Lumphini park-goers have much for which to be grateful in Bangkok,
Thailand. May it be ever thus. May this place of Buddhist statuary, fresh air
and sunshine always offer a day in the park.
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