Dragons of Bangkok

My job can be insane sometimes. This time it required me to go really long, as in "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" long. The Thailand gig sort of came out of the blue for me and I knew I would most probably not get a chance to photograph any wildlife. But by now dragging my camera gear around the globe is a habbit I can't shake. 

Anyway, here I was getting a bit jaded when one cloudy rainy afternoon I managed to steal a couple of hours to hang out at an urban park nearby. The Lumpini park is a small peace of green in the business district of Bangkok. Back in 1920ies when the park was founded this was the boonies, which probably made the wildlife here happy. But the city grew and as it did it devoured the park and trapped some animals here. No offence to the locals but the park itself is nothing special. The paved walkways are so wide they make the park look more like a parking lot and the brackish  waters of the lake look more like pea soup from "The Exorcist". Occasionally the wind brings a wave of stench of unknown (because you just don't want to know, trust me) origin. 

But I can overlook all of that for a chance to get up close and personal with wild animals. And here I met a huge monitor lizzard as soon as I walked through the park gates. This big guy attracted a lot of attention as he climbed into the water and scoured the shoreline in search of food.

The beautiful white egrets seemed at most mildly annoyed by his bulky body getting in their way. I think as he moved, the monitor scared up the little critters in the water and the egrets used that to their advantage. 

These birds are just so graceful and elegant I couldn't get enough and had to keep switching between them and the monitor.

Meanwhile the monitor was getting  agitated by the crowd growing around him and started swimming back and forth across the little lagoon to find a way back onto the shore. Since I was equipped with my telephoto lens, I didn't need to get up in his face for a shot and could maintain a comfortable distance. But I wasn't the only one there. Man, the next time the Creature from the Black Lagoon or Swamp Thing drag their butts ashore they are going to get trampled by eager tourists trying to take a selfie. It was sad to see the animal getting harassed. Even though noone touched him, the monitor was getting more and more anxious not finding a peaceful way out. 

After a while the monitor managed to find a drain pipe big enough for his two-meter-long barrel- bellied body.

I moved on, looking for other animals and birds to photograph. These curious little guys hopped around in the grass, oblivious to the presence of numerous cats. I do not know their proper name, sorry. But they remind me of robins most of all.

UPDATE: This is an Oriental magpie-robin. Yay, I was close!

Under one bridge I found a bunch of large turtles. These guys definitely give off a "snapper" vibe, so it is probably wise to keep your fingers away from them.

And just as it was getting dark and I was about ready to leave I ran into a green-backed heron. I have a soft spot for herons of this kind. They seem a bit odd, the way they combine beautiful and elegant plumage with the demeanor and love for the twilight of  Max Schreck 's Nosferatu. These herons are a tad creepy, but they're so good-looking it doesn't matter.

I must say, that despite all the shortcomings, this park helped me feel the ground beneath my feet again. In a whirlwind of chaos of a bustling city life "with everything but Yul Brynner"  I reconnected with something much closer to me and that's good enough.