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Suan Lumphini (สวนลุมพินี)

Thai. City park in Bangkok named after Lumbini, the birthplace of the historical Buddha. The park is the largest in town and attracts a variety of people practicing health beneficial activities, ranging from Tai Chi (fig.) and Qi Gong, to practitioners of mass aerobics (fig.). Besides this, a variety of other sports is practiced, such as jogging, krabi krabong (fig.), sword skills practice (fig.), yoga, etc. The park has two Chinese pavilions (fig.), and a huge lake where water cycles are for hire, and in and around which plenty of turtles and monitor lizards can be observed (fig.). In 1925, King Rama VI planned to organize a Trade Fair, the first ever in Siam, to boost the economy and to promote Siamese products at home, as well as abroad. The fair was scheduled for 23 October, coinciding with his 15th year on the Throne, and postage stamps to promote the event were printed (fig.), using the Siam Airmail stamps (1st Series) of 1924 (fig.), overprinted with the text Sayaam Rat Phiphithaphan (สยามรัฐพิพิธภัณฑ์ ๒๔๖๘), which means ‘Siamese Government Museum 2468 (BE)’. The King allocated a piece of royal land, his personal property, to organize the fair and which –once the 100 day event was over– the King had planned to make into a public park for his subjects. However, the King fell fatally ill and the fair was cancelled, and though the King passed away on 25 November 1925, the royal land near Sala Daeng was made into a public park nonetheless, which today is known as Lumphini Park, and a statue of Rama VI was erected at the park's main entrance (fig.) near Sala Daeng. He holds a scepter, known as a wachira in Thai, a reference to both his name and status. In the southeastern corner of the Park, another monument was erected on 13 December 2007, in honour of the 80th birthday of King Bhumipon Adunyadet and the 120th Anniversary of Thai-Japanese diplomatic relations (1887-2007). It is named Sagittarius (fig.), in reflection of the shared zodiacal sign of the King, who was born on 5 December 1927, and the Japanese emperor Akihito, who was born on 23 December 1933. It was commissioned by the Thai-Japanese Association and created by professor emeritus Thana Lauhakaikul (ธนะ เลาหกัยกุล), after an existing monument in Phuket, called Ban Lae Chiwit (บ้านและชีวิต), meaning ‘Home And Life’ and which is erected at Phuket Gateway. Both these monuments consists of a tortoiseshell, surrounded by eggs. The shell is a symbol for any ‘house’ or ‘home’, whereas the eggs stand for ‘life’ and ‘development’. The sculptor did not create the tortoiseshell of any specific species of tortoise, thus referring to all homes in general. The shape of the eggs also indicate generality, as their shape is round when seen from the back, like the round eggs of tortoises, but oval when seen from aside. The Sagittarius monument in Lumphini Park differs from that of Phuket in that it is smaller in size and in addition has representations of Archers on it, the constellation and ninth sign of the zodiac. Near the park, along Rama IV Road, was the former Lumphini Boxing Stadium, one of the leading arenas used for muay thai competitions, which since 2014 has been relocated to the Royal Thai Army Sports Centre on Ram Intra Road in Bangkok's northern Bang Khen district (fig.). See also QUADCOPTER PICTURE.