Across the street from our hotel was Lumphini Park, which the entire week we "tentatively" planned to walk around, but somehow never succeeded. No day but today was the mantra, so we set off from the hotel to the park. The entrance was appealing, complete with a huge statue of some military general very reminiscent of Napoleon (hence the huge statue) and a large clock topiary
. We walked through the gates and saw a Tai Chi group, the leader of which was wielding a sword. ::Insert random observation here:: No matter where you are in Bangkok at any time of the day on any day of the week there are tons of people about. Shopping, eating, wielding swords in the park. I know it was a holiday weekend, but we're into Wednesday now. Why are these people not at work?
We walked around a little more and coincidentally glancing to my right I gasped, "Look!". Sunning on the bank of a pond under a tree was some species of lizard, about the size of a full grown iguana. We marveled. A few meters more at the bank of another, larger pond was another, larger lizard. In fact there was a lounge of lizards. (Lounge is actually the term for a group of lizards, I googled it). We watched the lizards fight, swim, sun. We were on the hunt now. Turns out if we were lizard hunters we could make a killing here. Pun intended. There were literally dozens of these scaly monsters in all sizes across the park. The "No Dogs" sign was beginning to make a lot more sense.
Growing weary of lizard watching, I thrusted the travel guide into Rufio's hands and urged him to find something to do. That was a mistake on my behalf. While I was fervently scanning the park for a beverage stand I heard an exclamatory "There's a snake farm...and it's right down the street!". My head dropped and I uttered a defeated "Oh no". I knew there was no escaping it at this point. It was too close to find a reason to miss it. I could only hope it was expensive or at an inconvenient time. Neither of those were the case. The only saving grace in my opinion was that the snake farm was part of a university and Red Cross compound, and a portion of the proceeds went to the Red Cross. I shuddered as we bought tickets.
The show wasn't for another hour, so we decided to head down the street for a pint
. I squealed with delight when at the corner a Jim Thompson boutique came into view. I educated Rufio on the American silk entrepreneur to the best of my knowledge, and we picked out silk souveniers for ourselves and loved ones. The shopping and beer almost made me forget the dreadful event that was about to ensue. We headed back to the snake farm to see stands that were an hour ago desolate now packed to standing room only with school groups and tourists. We had to climb all the way to the top of the stadium seating and stand in a corner for a good view of the creepy crawlers. In all honestly the show was entertaining and I learned a few things. Next door was a snake exhibit, which we checked out. Then came the apex of the entire event. Photo op. I thought we had narrowly escaped our chance, but I was sadly mistaken. To my utter horror we were draped with a python as one of the handlers snapped our photograph. I feigned a smile to the best of my ability. Minutes later I think I legitametly scared a custodial worker as I scrubbed my neck vigorously in the restroom, attempting to get the smell and slime (say what you will about the reptilians, I say they're covered in slime) off my body. I was immediately regretting not spending the day with tranquilized tigers.
Our little misadventure to Pattaya had thrown quite the kink in our trip itinerary. We were to dive Monday, tour the Tiger Temple Tuesday and knock out some floating markets Wednesday, with a little Muay Thai thrown in the mix. We now had to nix the Tiger Temple and visiting the floating markets would mean an early trek that would drain the wallet a little more than was desired. We decided to stay nearby and just enjoy the city's offerings as we stumbled upon them. I had no way of knowing that meant spending much of the day interacting with reptiles. A lot of giant reptiles.