We all have different ways of dealing with the so-called grey days in our lives. It can be related to just anything from just a bad moody day to stress, sorrow and of course worst of all grief, that we all will go through in life sometimes.
Different individuals find different ways of coping with these days. Some have to go and burn out all those stress hormones in a sweaty hour at the gym. Others go for a run. A good swim might be good for some if you are privileged enough having a pool close by. Some people escape into another world with a good book not having to think of the things that give you that “blue or sad feelings”.
For me however it is always has to be “being outdoors”. Always. Whenever I feel low for some reason the best thing I can do is to get out of the house or apartment or office, if only for an hour. To get away from the area where the negative or sad feelings started if you know what I mean. To walk a few hours at least is preferably the best for me and it should not be walking to a shopping mall or to the grocery store, which is more stressful than anything, but to walk to a nice green park somewhere. In Bangkok my two favourite parks are Benjakiti and Lumphini Parks. I walk there several times a week since I live fairly close to both of them and can walk to the parks as well. No tuk tuk, taxi or skytrain needed. Sometimes I walk with friends if I want to talk but quite often I walk alone with music in my earphones.
A park differs from day to day. Nothing is really the same. The weather varies of course which gives different light, shadows and sometimes even a bit of drama if it starts to rain or if a thunderstorm begins in the middle of your walk. That can happen during rainy season in Bangkok as we all know.
In the park you find animals, flowers, lakes, statues, clock towers, old people, young people, cyclists, kids playing, people out with their parents in wheelchairs, workers, tired people having a sudden nap on a bench, friends having breakfast together, Quigong exercising people, sometimes you even see people dancing in Lumphini park practicing outside. People are simply enjoying spending time in a park. It´s just the way it is. Everywhere. The need we all have to get away and to have a free zone without boundaries of musts for a little while.
Away from computers and TVs etc. All cities in the world have at least one park. I don´t think I have ever been to a city that actually doesn’t have one. It would be very strange. It gives me so much pleasure to live close to Benjakiti Park and that was in fact a request I had when moving to Bangkok since I love walking so much. A park or some green area at least in this busy “concrete jungle” was a must. However when moving here I realised to my surprise that I had mixed this park up with Benjasiri by Emporium in Phrom Phong. I like Benjakiti better so that mistake didn’t matter at all when looking at housing.
My Swedish friends and I have a few people that we have seen around for all of the three years I have lived here and I would in fact miss them dearly, if they suddenly were not to be seen. It is for example the man who collects branches and leaves from the other gardeners and he has his sort of bicycle with a loading tray right in front. He bikes really slowly around the lake. I guess this is his routine for a daily life. Then we have what we call “the sleeping man in the park”. He has a white
pony tail and almost always wear the same kind of shorts and we see him resting or sleeping on a bench. He seems quite happy with that. There is also this cute boy I have been following now for three years and I think he is there with his mother instead of being at a day care centre or more common here with his grandmother and grandfather looking after him. Sometimes this cutie also sweeps and collects leaves and the other gardeners spoil him sometimes with candies. He looks very happy and I have always thought to myself that you can indeed have worse times as a child than this boy has. I can see in his eyes that he admire the gardeners who run the grasscutters. The sound they make attracts the boy.
Then of course we have the “cat of the park”. This one in Benjakiti has a feeder so he is also a lucky one. Parks, animals and people. The combination and green life – I just love it. In Lumphini but also in Benjakiti you can spot monitor lizards and turtles but also big fish of course in the lakes.
The duck boats usually are used a lot by visitors on Sundays. I have a few fantastic parks that I would like to share with you if you travel to any of these places; Namsan Park in Seoul, Central Park New York, Haga Park in Stockholm, Botanical Garden in Singapore, Griffith Park LA, Shinyuku National Park in Tokyo, Keukenhof in the Netherlands, Kings Park in Perth, the park and walk up to Sintra Portugal is simply amazing. There are just too many to remember. Your park lover of the month.
Monica Nilsson is president of SWEA
(Swedish Womens Education Association)