Tai Chi with the locals in Bangkok

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.

Lumpini Park is a tranquil place to exercise

Lumpini Park is a tranquil place to exercise

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.

Lumpini Park offers cool respite from the heat in Bangkok. Photo © Briar Jensen

Lumpini Park offers cool respite in the heart of Bangkok

Every morning the park is filled with people meditating, socialising and exercising – from ballroom dancing to sword fighting.

Exercise comes in various different froms

Exercise comes in various different froms

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.

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Sofitel So Bangkok overlooks Lumpini Park

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’.

tai chi takes place throughout Lumpini Park

Tai chi takes place throughout Lumpini Park

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.

The lovely group that invited me to join them to tai chi

The lovely group that invited me to join them in tai chi

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

Disclaimer: I travelled to Bangkok as a guest of Accor Hotels. This story first appeared on the Get Up & Go magazine blog.

About Briar's Travel Beat

Briar Jensen is a Sydney-based freelance travel writer. In her blog, Briar's Travel Beat, she shares her travel experiences to inform, entertain and inspire.
This entry was posted in Accommodation, Bangkok, Thailand, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tai Chi with the locals in Bangkok

  1. How cool! I wanted to join in in Taipei but I was too chicken. Next time!

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    • Oh, what a shame Amanda! they are always so welcoming when they realise you might want to join in. I even joined in morning ballroom dancing once in Bangkok too! Only my partner was much better than me. I’ve been invited to share tea too from a complete stranger in the park. So lovely!

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  2. bikewalkeat says:

    What a nice thing to do in a new city!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rhys says:

    Great article, I throughly enjoyed reading this and Bangkok is one of my fav cities. I’ve just booked a stay in the Sofitel hotel like you so hopefully it’s as good for me too.

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  4. Vikki Eyres says:

    Hi, I’m heading to Bangkok on 18th (yay 2 days) and plan to go to the park. Did you go through the largest gate and turn left? Did you get there for 5.30 am? Which day of the week did you go? I’d like to try the Tai Chi yang style coz I’ve just recently started it here in Melbourne. Would be a shame to pass up the chance to do it O/S with the locals.

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    • Hi Vikki,
      So sorry for the slow reply, but I’ve been away camping out of internet range. Hope you had a good flight to Bangkok. It doesn’t matter what day you go to the park, people exercise every morning. I probably;y went about 6.30-ish, although earlier would be fine, though activities wind up by 8 or 9 as the temperature starts to rise. It doesn’t matter what gate you go through, just walk around until you find the different Tai Chi groups. There are usually lots going at the same time. Just walk up to the back of the group, smile at the leader and they’ll be happy to have you join in. They are often groups of friends who will drink tea afterwards, so are happy to chat, although most have limited English. If you go through the main gate by the King Rama VI monument, turn right onto the main walkway. Last time I entered through the gate at the corner of Rama VI road and Witthayu Road and there were Tai Chi groups just inside the gate. I hope you get this message in time and do let me know how you go. Enjoy your time in Bangkok! I also have a post on Chatuchak Market if you like bargain shopping. The fact box at the end has details about getting there. https://briarstravelbeat.com.au/2014/10/07/stolen-identity-not-this-time/ cheers, Briar

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