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THAILAND

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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