Nong Tin Park in Nong Khai is a lovely, quiet oasis of
green just outside of the town centre. I was completely unaware of its
existence until a friend of mine recently told me about it. She said that
the park is quite large with small lakes, jogging paths, and green grass to
wriggle your toes in under the shade of trees bearing flowers like flames.
It’s popular in the early morning and late afternoon with joggers and
other exercise enthusiasts, when the sun isn’t at its zenith and the air
is relatively cool. She said you can also feed fish in the lakes - young
girls sell bags of fish food for 10 baht - and that feeding the fish is good
luck. Curious about Nong Tin and thinking that I’m always in need of a
dose of good luck, I decided to check it out.
Tin Park in Nong Khai is a lovely, quiet oasis of green just outside of the
The following day I set out from my house around 4:30
p.m. - I was walking and wanted to give myself ample time to reach the park
before the sun set into the huge mass of clouds that was quickly spreading
across the sky. As I walked along the river road, I reviewed the directions
my friend had given me and turned left at the old railway station. I
followed the lane past monks’ quarters where clean saffron robes hung
neatly along bamboo fences and chickens scuttled underneath, until it curved
to the right and ended at the entrance to the park.
To my left was a temple that looked like it was only
half-finished yet was incredibly beautiful - the concrete walls and columns
were the same shade of grey as the clouds overhead, yet the windows, doors,
and roof were dazzling. Even in the soft muted light the gold glittered as
if it was illuminated by the sun within, and the red roof that fell from two
peaks in gentle layers, accented with colours of the sky, was like a mirror
image of birds’ wings.
As I walked past the temple into the park I heard the
faint sound of laughter and looked back to see a group of young monks
scampering over the steps and around the columns of the temple, their orange
robes standing out against the grey concrete. Hearing soft voices call out,
"Hello!" I waved to them and received enthusiastic waves and
laughter in return.
of young monks scampered over the steps and around the columns of the
temple, their orange robes standing out against the grey concrete.
I continued on along a concrete road that encircled half
of the park until I reached the beginning of the footpath; then I began to
hear dance music. The booming base led me to the tip of the lake, where at
least one hundred people were doing aerobics. With arms lifting and legs
lunging and pumping, they followed the steps of a young fit woman on a small
stage, who called out directions using a microphone fitted over her ear.
Smiling to myself as the base vibrated throughout my body, I thought that
perhaps my friend had not come to Nong Tin during this time of day since she
said the place was peaceful! But still, what a fantastic idea to do outdoor
I left the exercise area as indeed I was seeking some
quiet time and a little good luck, and walked down to the lake. Soon enough,
a young girl of about 8 years of age hurried towards me with a bag in her
hand. She held it expectantly up to my face, and I could see what looked
like rabbit food through the translucent pink plastic.
large bodies of silver and bright orange thrashed, and soon there were so
many fish they became a solid mass.
"Ten baht," she said confidently, and after I
gave her the coin she ran back to a group of women and children sitting on
I walked over to a set of steps that led down to the
water, the thump of the music echoing slightly in my ears. A couple had just
arrived and began throwing fish food into the water, which suddenly churned
madly with greedy fish trying to get at the pellets. I sat down on the
concrete step and began tossing the pellets into the water as well, and was
amazed at the strength of the fish furiously pushing and slapping each other
out of the way to get the food, with mouths wide open. Water splashed over
me as the large bodies of silver and bright orange thrashed, and soon there
were so many fish they became a solid mass. I emptied the last of the bag of
pellets into the water, hoping now that I would have good luck.
Noticing that the sky was getting darker, I decided to
take a walk around the lake before it was time to leave. I continued along
the footpath I shared with several joggers, their t-shirts sticking to their
backs, drenched with sweat. I stopped at a bench underneath the limbs of a
tall, protective tree, whose orange-red flowers indeed looked like flames
against the clouds, wiggled my toes in the grass and watched water bugs
dance across the surface of the lake. Quiet laughter carried across the
water and I looked to see a group of girls dash across the bridge at the
other end of the park. Then there was silence.
Mesmerized by the tranquility of the place I daydreamed for several
minutes, until tiny splashes alerted me to the fact that it had begun to
rain and dusk had settled in. Reluctantly, I got up to leave my sanctuary,
and vowed to come again to Nong Tin Park this week. And maybe even try the