30 Jun 2013

Picnic at Suan Luang Rama IX Park

Saturday afternoon. Nice, sunny day outside. Three good friends spending the weekend in my place. We are starting to feel hungry, and the conversation develops like this:
Any suggestions on where to go for lunch? 
Why don't we buy some food around here, pack it in a backpack, along with a blanket, grab some drinks, and take a cab to eat relaxingly in Suan Luang Park?
Do you mean a picnic and some beers?
Let's go!

Metallic roots, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

The traffic was terribly slow, so we almost ended up eating our precious picnic food inside the taxi, but patience triumphed and, in the end, we reached the park. In the early afternoon, any park in Bangkok is quiet and unpopulated, so we just found a nice spot under a tree that we liked, extended the blanket over the grass, and starting devouring our meal without any trace of manners.

The sentinel, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

There was nothing but a soft breeze and the sound of birds around us, a perfect retreat mere kilometres from noisy downtown Bangkok, but, unknowingly, our presence woke up the discreet, almost invisible inhabitants of this green realm: the smell of food was calling, and a few animals started to approach, cautiously, evaluating how to catch some of our fallen crumbs.

The rascal, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Once we finished our lunch, my three Thai friends wanted to doze for a while in the comfy blanket, while chitchatting in their beautiful, indecipherable language, so it was my perfect opportunity to take the camera with me and go for a lonely walk around the park grounds. We agreed to reunite at that same spot in two hours, so off I went, ready to enjoy the beautiful scenery. But the first thing that struck me in the eye was a bright, yellow glow that was moving slowly between the foliage, coming towards me. Soon I realized what it really was.

Yellow rounds, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It rained last night, so the park-carers were patrolling around, cleaning the paths and lanes from fallen leaves, emptying the bins from garbage, and cutting off the branches that were dangerously bent or slightly cracked from the storms. They did their job careful and meticulously, while advancing elegantly in their yellow truck amongst the green. Yet they were not the only ones taking care of the cleanliness and beauty of the place, for other, more humble workers, were doing the same job on their feet.

The couple that fills the sack, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Last night's rain had not disappear completely yet, as there were still small puddles, here and there, offering the viewer beautiful, lush reflections full of color, and the plants and flowers still showed the mist of water drops over their leaves.

Romance of plant and water I, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Romance of plant and water II, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

As I continued walking, I past by a beautiful shrine that was erected on top of pillars, in the middle of a pond full of water lilies; the contrast of the blue sky, green foliage, golden columns and red tiles was a beauty on its own, and any picture taken of it was easily going to be beautiful without much photographic effort. I guess there are places that are difficult not to get a good picture of!

Unreachable shrine, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It really is a pleasure to walk leisurely, at your own pace, alone with yourself, enjoying beautiful sights around, caressed by a soft breeze, and being able to capture some of those tiny, subtle moments with a camera. I strolled around the lonely paths, no clear destination in mind, just following the shades, until I caught a glimpse of the tip of a tower between the branches. Now my road became clear, and I walked in that direction.

 The peak, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Ratchamangkhala Pavilion is the biggest, most recognizable landmark in the park, and it can be seen from pretty much everywhere in the area, its pointy roof tower standing way above any of the trees. Located in the bank of the biggest lake of the park, it has an harmonic, beautiful shape, and its white and golden figure contrasts sharply with the lush, colorful surroundings.

Ratchamangkhala Pavilion, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

It was getting really hot, so I started looking for a thicker shade where I could walk unperturbed by the sun, when I found something that was even better than that: a quiet, solitary Chinese pavilion that offered me not only the cooling shade that I needed, but also a peaceful place to sit and rest for a while, accompanied by lovely little structures and architectures. I enjoyed the small, relaxing break sitting in a wooden bench by a little pond, I drank a lot of water, and grabbed some pictures.

The Chinese retreat, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

The Chinese retreat's roof tiles, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

The geometries and shapes of the Chinese shrine were all whimsical, delicate and pretty; from the tile arrangments to the railings, paths and benches, all was meticulously designed following regular patterns that pleased the eye. Symmetry and improvisation was combined in a very balanced manner, which gave the small place an aura of rarity, but of delicacy at the same time. This careful distribution of elements worked very well in conjunction with the shadows of the surrounding trees and bushes which, all together, created a vivid mural of blacks and whites, perfect for some monochrome captures.

Another kind of Chinese shadows I,  GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Another kind of Chinese shadows II,  GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

When I resumed my walk, I realized it was almost time to reunite with my friends, but there were still many areas of the park that I hadn't had the chance to visit, so I decided to walk back to the starting point following another path, bordering the opposite bank of the lake, so I could see different  gardens. And that's how I discovered the charming, elegant music pavilion, all fringed by trees, and bathed by puddles of light and shadow. Even though I was running out of time, I still made a bit of time to sit down in the grass for a while, and there I met a very friendly boy, amateur photographer like me, who was experimenting with stop motion with his Fuji camera. Nice to meet you, and let's have a photo walk together soon, Fluke!

Waiting for the band, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Unfortunately, there was no more time for idly conversation, and I had to hurry back to meet my friends. But I didn't have to walk all the way back, for I met them on the way, as they were walking by the lake banks, still chitchatting of all things past and future. As I joined them, we bough some ice creams in a nearby kiosk, and decided to sit by the water for a while, and enjoy the fast approaching sunset. It's been a nice weekend from beginning to end, thank you guys!

Ratchamangkhala Pavilion at sunset, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

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