by TRT Thongnuan

29 November 2016

#8 Green

As a bustling metropolis, Bangkok abounds with skyscrapers, condominiums and houses. Roads and expressways form a complicated transportation web, making areas in the capital much more accessible. Traffic problems and pollution are thus inevitable. As with the Bangkokians themselves, Bangkok is getting busier and busier. Even on Sunday, when the traffic is expected to be much lighter, the roads are not empty as expected, a glimpse of what horrible Monday is supposed to look like. When long holidays arrive, there is no doubt that more than half the people residing in Bangkok seek better places to relax and refresh their mind, simply as a result of the fact that there is scarcely any green space that gives them a sense of pure nature here.

Well, that is partly true. Bangkok turns super-lovely on Sunday and during long holidays, when it gives you the feeling of a deserted capital, with much fewer people gathering and very few cars on the roads. People may be leaving for somewhere else, but if you visit some of Bangkok’s public parks on Sunday morning or during the holidays, that is where people in search of peace of mind meet. They ride on a bicycle, go jogging, sit back and relax on one of the park’s benches, lie on the grass and look up the sky, pedal the boat on the lake. When sunlight becomes strong, they leave the park, thinking of going again in the evening.

Lumpini park is truly the green highlight of Bangkok. Situated right in the downtown, adjacent to Silom and Sathorn, two of Bangkok’s major business areas, and Langsuan, the park acts as a lung that helps alleviate the air pollution caused by all-day heavy traffic around the surrounding areas. On top or high floors of any tall buildings, you will see this gigantic green spot in the middle of everywhere, the picture that more or less revitalizes your ailing mind, at least making you less worried about the living condition of people in this grand capital.

Chatuchak, Rot Fai and Sirikit Parks are the other three important parks in the north of Bangkok, being overshadowed by the massive popularity of Chatuchak Weekend Market, attracting shoppers, some of whom have no idea that the market is just a small part of the gigantic land plot in the Chatuchak area. During the weekend, the parks draw Bangkokians who seek fresh air and peaceful atmosphere. Cycling seems to be a trendy activity, with natural scenic area and a great lake building up the refreshing ambience. Though the three parks are close to each other, they are not wholly connected. Therefore, the government has been planning to combine the three parks into one, making the newly-merged park the largest one in Central Bangkok with the total area of over 700 Rai.

If you use the expressway or are on an airport link, you may discover the massive green plot of land while riding past the Makkasan area. Recently, one idea that the land should be developed into a city park every metropolis is supposed to have was originated. The huge deserted land plot spanning an area between Petchaburi and Din Daeng Roads belongs to The State Railway of Thailand and is expected by many people to be converted into the Bangkok version of New York’s Central Park. Though the final conclusion has not been drawn yet, we feel relieved that the oasis of Bangkok is still unharmed.

Many streets in Bangkok are charming thanks to a number of trees on both sides and along the traffic islands. You will be amazingly transported back to Bangkok in the old days once you ride past Wireless or Ratchadamnoen Roads and can never believe those trees were planted decades ago, some of them more than a century ago. The Royal Ground or Sanam Luang is encircled by a row of tamarind trees that have existed since the reign of King Rama V, offering one of the best pictures to represent Bangkok, with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace as a stunning background.

Some of Bangkok’s campuses are known as green campus with trees and green areas providing shades and liveliness to the university life. Areas under the expressway which were once deserted are converted into parks serving people in the community nearby. Big trees stretch out branches which are large enough to create the so-called ‘Tree Tunnel’ giving an even more fantastic scene when the train rides past, making it harder to believe this can actually be experienced in Bangkok. Even some new shopping and community malls come up with a modern green concept, with a nice design to make shoppers feel closer to nature.

In the era when a piece of land in Bangkok is more valuable than anything, the need to develop it for a commercial purpose results in a rapid decline of green areas. However, it is great to see more and more pieces of land being developed into a city park. Patumwananurak Park is a great example of clever land development for the benefits of city people. Situated next to CentralWorld, the park is believed to be another spot that attracts Bangkokians who wish to do something else, while in town, other than shopping.

Bangkok may fail the green urban areas test, with an insufficient amount of green space that big cities need, but it is great news that the green awareness has finally been built in the mind of Bangkokians. At least, if they want to breathe some fresh air, they have a variety of parks to choose from. If they want to have a closer look at wild animals, they visit Dusit Zoo or Safari World. If they get tired of watching the concrete jungle, they can have a glimpse of what a forest looks likes by wandering around the 12rai PTT Green in the City for a change of atmosphere. Or if they want to discover a harmonious blend of concrete and green space, they can go to Naiipa Art Complex, near BTS Phra Khanong, where an office building is constructed in the location where big trees have existed long before, highlighting how important it is to preserve the trees.

Green space is what an urban society cannot live without. It is also an indicator suggesting how healthy the city and its people are. Though Bangkok and its people are not that super-healthy, they will never ever become sick or paralyzed.