Apparently, tai chi is all about internal energy flow, but the only energy I’m channelling is nervous energy. How much of a goose (or perhaps that should be crane?) am I making of myself? But I don’t care.
I feel enormously privileged to be invited to join a tai chi session in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park by people I don’t know, don’t share a language with and will probably never meet again.
Lumpini Park is a green oasis in the heart of Bangkok. Like New York’s Central Park, it’s a place for exercise, relaxation and recreation. It’s also a great place to escape the heat with its shady trees, artificial lake and trickling fountains.
Every morning the park is filled with people meditating, socialising and exercising – from ballroom dancing to sword fighting.
On an early morning walk from my hotel, the Sofitel So Bangkok, I stop to admire a group of women practising tai chi when, with hand gestures and encouraging smiles, I’m invited to join in.
While it looks simple, tai chi takes concentration and control. I lack the fluid movements of the leader as I cross my arms the wrong way and turn in the wrong direction. My ‘White Crane Spreads Wing’ is more ‘Black Bird Dies Slowly’.
But the grins of appreciation at my clumsy efforts have me brimming with pride. Hmm, the energy flow of pride – that’s probably not quite the tai chi philosophy, but I certainly feel good on the inside. And it’s a lovely way to start the day in Bangkok.
On your travels have you ever spontaneously joined locals exercising in a park? I’d love to hear your stories.
More: The Sofitel So Bangkok overlooks Lumpini Park. The rooms are decorated in four themes: earth, water, wood and metal and the staff wear quirky, vibrant uniforms designed by Christian Lacroix. Visit www.sofitel-so-bangkok.com