Thailand Journal: Day 6

tl;dr version: we spent another day in Bangkok, where we wandered Lumphini Park and we checked out a snake farm.

We had another day in Bangkok before our second excursion. We spent the morning swimming in the pool on the roof, a refreshing way to start the day. I had initially planned on exercising, but I’m not generally a fan it, so I instead took the swimming as enough and we headed back to the apartment to get ready.

As was typical, we got out on the later side, which was generally a bad idea, given the heat. Unfortunately, in our hurry to leave, we forgot to take any picture-taking devices with us, so you’ll have to forgive We decided to aim for an area of Bangkok we had not been, so we took the boat across the river to the Skytrain, which we rode to Lumphini Park.

Lumphini Park is not terribly unlike Central Park, insofar as its a massive, well-kept green space in what is otherwise a metropolitan city. I might even go so far as to say it’s nicer. The park seems designed to accommodate cars far easier, though there wasn’t any traffic within[1. The roads were really wide, like a boulevard, with a center divide planted with trees, bushes, and other fauna.]. A few bodies of water, one of which had paddle boats we could use to float around, but given the fact that it was midday and the sun was beating on us quite fiercely, we opted against it[2. I actually found, throughout this trip, that I could quite easily tolerate the heat, whereas Heidi struggled with it quite a bit more. I would have liked to go on the paddle boats, but I do know she would have been miserable. Probably all for the best.].

We wandered around for a good while, admiring the very beautifully kept park, before stopping to rest in what was basically a Chinese gazebo. We drank some water to rehydrate while we chatted about our impressions of the place. While waiting, we were visited by a group of schoolchildren, though they seemed content to converse amongst themselves rather than bother us, though there was at least one I could tell was a bit curious.

They left, and shortly thereafter we departed as well. We passed by what was really a very Western-looking recreation center with tennis courts and the like, which brought back to mind that “uncanny valley” feeling again. On the way out, I noted there were a number of carts that would have been selling food but weren’t currently open[3. I don’t know why I failed to notice them on the way in, which seems strange, I guess. I do remember thinking that they would have been open had it not been midday and scorching].

As we left the park, we then debated a bit on where we wanted to go next. Heidi was bothered by the heat and pressed to return to BMK to wander around the stores again, but that would have required a return trip on the Skytrain. However,I looked at the map and had another idea: nearby was a snake farm!

Yes, a snake farm. It seems they have a center developed primarily for the study of snakes and their venom. It was behind what I think was a Red Cross hospital. We arrived just in time, as a snake demonstration was just beginning.

And it was so worth it.

As we were arriving at the last possible minute, we stood off to the side. There was a grandstand with seats where most of the audience sit. In another quirk Thailand’s complete lack of regulations regard anything dangerous, the only thing that separated those of us off to the side from the snake demonstration area was the equivalent of a movie theater velvet rope divider.

The demonstration was intense. The presenter was quite good – he provided the information in Thai, English, and Chinese, explaining a little bit about each snake, its eating habits and habitats, and how poisonous it is if you get bitten.

The snake handlers had no fear. It was really amazing. While the presenter explained everything about the animal, the handlers basically would just provoke the snakes and keep them focused on themselves instead of wandering around. At one point they brought out a cobra and demonstrated how to grab one with your bare hands. It’s about as insane as it sounds.

The coup de grace, though, was the last snake they brought out[4. Who’s type, unfortunately, escapes me.]. After continuing the tease-snake-and-keep-out-of-reach routine, the demonstration ended with an unbelievable moment. While the snakes don’t actually end up getting close to the people, on the final demonstration, the snake got dangerously close to the demonstrator, who nimbly stepped out of way and grabbed the snakes head in one swift motion. I was pretty sure I was watching a man die, but it was incredible.

From there, we wanted what was basically a snake zoo. There were a number of snakes outside the building in various pits and changes, with information translated into English, Chinese, and (of course) Thai. The building also housed more snakes, many of which were even more colorful and awesome than the ones outside. Upstairs, specimens of snake skin and eggs were on display, as well as a looping video of one man explaining his experience getting bitten by a snake[5. Which sounded incredibly painful.].

For dinner, we returned to MBK. It wasn’t anything incredible, but you can’t beat that kind of selection. I ended going with a Greek gyro and a fruit smoothie. We returned home after dinner and watched the sun set over the Chao Phraya.

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