I live in a small fairly modern apartment block in the heart of the Bangkok central business district surrounded by huge office towers. I am a one minute walk from Surawong Road, about 2 from Sri Phaya Road and 5 from Samyan MRT underground station. But I live in a maze of tiny streets where Thai-Chinese shophouses and rooms for rent meet the occasional (usually run-down) apartment block and even the odd slum here or there. This is an area populated by a transitory army of university lecturers, university students, fair sized African and South Asian communities, a few Russians and a few other Europeans and Americans intermingling with the long-timers.
This morning was not very different from many other mornings when I am in Bangkok, but do not have to work. I got up before six and went out to exercise. That is a 1.5 kilometer walk to Lumpini Park. Along the way, heading out along a footpath at the side of a canal, I meet Surawong Road. The journey then heads up to Thaniya, through to Silom Road and finally using Silom underground station to cross the busy intersection and enter the park. Today is Saturday so the torrent of office workers usually making their way in the other direction is not there. It is a quieter time and one in which you get to see the other side of Bangkok. There are the old and not so old sleeping on the streets with their possessions encased in plastic to protect them from the tropical deluges that are increasingly common right now. Then there are the night shift security guards sitting drinking beer with their shifts over, as the morning food stalls start to set up for the day’s work. Moving into Thaniya you run into the last vestiges of the night entertainment workers chatting while sat at a table cluttered with empty whisky bottles, glasses and the last remains of a bucket of ice cubes sliding into a watery grave. Beside and around them the roads are being cleaned by workers with long, long green hose-pipes and brushes, as in yet another area the food stalls start to ready for work. Into Silom there is the occasional office worker heading one-way or another presumably either after finishing or waiting to start to start some needed cover of weekend work. Few shops are open except for the 24-hour Boots and 24-hour Amazon coffee shop. Finally it is the underground station where the air-conditioning is a welcome relief even in the cooler albeit humid times of the rains. Finally I am at Lumpini Park.
It is time to exercise with the crowds of people in an array of black to multi-colored mostly spandex sports gear. My aging Chonburi Sharks football shirt and track suit bottoms feel a tad unfashionable. But it is to exercise that I am there for, so its a few kilometers of fast walking interspersed with whatever exercise machines are free and unbroken.
On the way back, it is into the 24-hour Amazon for a cup of coffee. It is quickly obtained and then up the stairs to the fourth floor past the people sleeping on the ground and third floor. It looks like they have spent the night there. Some sleeping with their head on a laptop. The fourth floor though is bright an deserted. Next it is time to have something to eat. Rice soup at Thaniya is the choice today. You can have a plate with three different dishes to eat with the blackberry rice soup complete with pearl barley. The cost is 30 Baht.
That finished, the walk back to the apartment is all that is left. It is still early and Saturday, so few people are about.