This is an old favorite of mine, generally I hate cycling around in circles, but there’s not much option if you’ve only got an hour lunch break to spare. Most of the time I would train / exercise in Lumpinee park at noon, cycling around in a 2.5 kilometer circle, it’s okay I guess as you don’t have to worry about cars and simply let your mind wonder as I complete 20 km before heading back to the office to work.
But today, my first day of hopping back on a bike to exercise at noon had to be somewhat different so I chose the two parks ride, this route covers takes you to Benjakitti Park and Lumpinee Park. The two parks are connected by a hidden, and little known, concrete pathway that stretches over the expressway and Wireless road, so you hardly even ride on the road itself, except for getting to & from these parks itself.
I started from the parking garage of the Bangkok Christian Hospital, whizzing down the ramp from the 7th floor is always a fun way to start cycling. Hitting ground floor I rode on to Surawong before turning into Rama IV and heading straight for the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (government sponsored cancer) Factory, where the Queen Sirikit Convention Center and Benjakitti Park is located. Riding this route there’s plenty of uneven surfaces to negotiate, plus some big drainage grates which made me concerned if my small 18″ wheels would fall into, but surprise surprise, the Birdy flew over the road undulations with ease.
I had hoped to visit the new Benjakitti Park that the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly gave as a gift to Bangkokians, giving us a new “lung”, but that’s kind of a joke really when you think about what TTM does, they make cigarettes! They poison your lungs with cigarettes and then try to make it up with a park……
No cycling in the new Benjakitti 2 Park
Anyway, here’s some interesting facts from Wikipedia about Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM).
- The TTM produces 19 brands of cigarettes.
- Sales in 2009 were 50 billion Baht, including exports.
- Net profits were 5.8 billion Baht.
- The TTM is one of the most profitable state enterprises.
Bicycle path at Benjakitti 1 Park
Birdy bike taking a rest in between cycling (foreground) and jogging (background) track.
Back to my cycling. Because I couldn’t enter the new park I did a single round on the old park of the same name, basically the new part is an extension, more green area. The old portion doesn’t have so much trees, but it has one huge lake in the middle with a separate cycling and jogging track circumventing the lake. Used to be that many hardcore cyclist would come here in the evenings to race one another round the track, not sure if that still takes place or not, will have to find out one evening. The plus side of Benjakitti is that you can cycle round the park any part of the day without restrictions. They’ve also repaved the cycle path so it’s much smoother now then before.
From here I took to the green pathway behind the TTM factory all the way across the expressway, running between Soi Ruamrudee and Soi Polo, over Wireless Road and down to Lumpini Park, distance is approximately 1.3 kilometers. I believe this route is locked at night, as there are gates at both ends, but I can’t confirm this.
In Lumpini Park there are restrictions on when a bicycle can use the park, you must also stick to the assigned path, and not exceed 25 kph. They also make it difficult or not enjoyable for you to ride in the park, it’s as if we are disturbing the peace so the guards will blow their whistles, stop you, or they will announce of the public address system warning cyclists to respect the rules, that usually happens when we are racing each other. All this is kind of stupid really, because we are only allowed to cycle in the park from 11 am to 3 pm, which is the hottest time of the day, hardly a soul in the park apart from us cyclists, but that doesn’t stop them from wetting the roads, especially on corners, just to slow us down, and if one should fall it would be our fault for speeding…..
Lumpini Park is unlike other parks in the city, it has wide roads, which is nice for cyclists, but it also means the heat bounces of the pavement and makes it incredibly hot at times. Luckily the trees here are mature, so there are shades here and there to recover.
I manage 3 rounds in the park before calling it a day and heading back to the office car park, showered and changed back into my work clothes for the next half of the day.