Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bangkok's bicycle infrastructure: Raised cycle track between Lumpini and Benjakiti parks

Riding in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok is an experience I typically rate on a par with dried fish markets and cut rate tattoo parlors: the air quality is poor, and it is hazardous to my health. However, my friend Katy and I discovered on our Monday night bikesploring expedition that there is a way you can ride near Sukhumvit without actually needing to experience it.

Katy and I actually found the bicycle path while running at Lumpini about a month ago. The funny thing is that I read about this track nearly a year and a half ago but never figured out where it was exactly, leading me to believe it was, like unicorns, mythical. Turns out it was, like unicorns, hiding in a really convenient location waiting to be discovered, and is accessed via the footbridge at the northeast corner of the park. Because it is away from big streets for the most part, it is a surprisingly serene, wide track that leads directly to another park with a cycle path, Benjakitti, and has the merit of being absolutely inaccessible to anything motorized. It is a little awkward because it changes levels often enough that one must dismount and walk the bike up and down stairs at least three times, but despite that, it is an ideal cycle or running commute for anyone living in Phrom Phong or Asok areas and working at any of the embassies or establishments on Witthayu or Ruam Rudee. I am jealous of those lucky bastards.

Here's the route we took from my place in Ari to the path, and a little continued journey to Emporium, where we treated ourselves to gelato before taking the skytrain back.

View Monday night tour d'park ~10 miles in a larger map


Starting from NE corner of Lumpini-Katy walks the Lotus up the stairs. Luckily, there are these ramps there for all the stairs on this route.

Selfie over Witthayu

Conrad Hotel and Thanon Witthayu, from the footbridge

City by night, on the track on our way to Benjakitti
A lower portion of the track, with a canal to the left

Benchasiri Park, next to Emporium Phrom Phong

Katy takes in the lights

Waiting for the train!

We are so happy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

King's Birthday Ride-Sanam Luang, Thanon Ratchadamnoen, Grand Palace

Normally I wouldn't put up two similar rides in a row, but this one was kind of special. I heard in my Thai class last night that the area around the Grand Palace and Ratchadamnoen Road gets lit up this week for the King's Birthday (that'd be today, the 5th) and that yesterday would be the day to go as today it'd be packed. So I headed south west to see what all the fuss was about. There is still time to do this-I am sure at least through Friday and possibly through the weekend there will still be lights to go see, and I do recommend.

Guys, this is the Thai equivalent of going to your local American retirement village mid-December to gawk at the lights extravaganzas while cruising in slow formation with all the other gawkers.

Corner of Ratchawithi and Rama V

I don't know what that is but it looks like fairyland

Photo of a guy taking a photo of the lights

More fairyland

The best part of the ride was when I joined up with these guys just after turning onto Ratchadamnoen (how could I pass up a giant peloton just hanging out in matching outfits on the street? Notice a couple of them are really cute, also.) I was not the only person with a bike and a fabulous plan-there were dozens of other cyclists out and about checking out the scene as well.

Sampran cycling team. They actually rode all the way here from Sampran last night - and back.

Obviously, I think this whole situation is the best thing ever.

Democracy Monument

Then we got to the Grand Palace, where there was a whole festival going down in the park:

Thai dancing

Lawn with Thaksin Bridge in the background

Video, for maximum atmospheric flavor:

And finally, can't do without the Map:

View King's Birthday Ride in a larger map

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Night riding from Ari to Dusit and Memorial Bridge (Saphan Put Night Market)/Thonburi

I'm back:) Can't believe how long it's's been terrible not riding, but rain, heat, and sheer lack of time have kept me off the bike since May. I've discovered a new, more fun thing, though: riding the city at night. It's a lot calmer, cooler, and generally more fun to ride in Bangkok at night. I especially recommend the Dusit district (government central) as it's REALLY quiet at night.  Last night, my friend Isaac and I went west from where we live (Ari/Saphan Kwai) out towards the river, then headed south...also, as it turns out due to the twists and turns of the Chao Praya, towards the river. We ended up at Memorial Bridge, discovering a cool night market (Talad Saphan Phut) and what seems to be a very popular hangout for teenagers and teenage couples. I don't blame them; it's a great view. #romanceinthecity. Nuff said. Here are the pictures:

View east from Saphan Put

View west-that's Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) on the left

View of the market from the bridge

Another market+river view

Buddha at a temple in Thonburi on Th. Somdet Chao Praya

The temple

And then we found the Giant Swing on the way back, and went to have ice cream nearby.

And the map! Enjoy! And don't forget to ride your bike.:)

View Dusit night ride in a larger map