A great ride round the bend from the park

Bangkok is notorious for traffic congestion, and Srinakarin Road is cursed with some of the city's worst jams.

But don't rush to judge that life is always miserable for those living in the area though. If you use Google Maps, you'll find that not far from the mess on the southern part of Srinakarin Road lies a calm oasis of greenery and a big lake. The lake has been partitioned in such a way that from above it looks pretty much like the letter S in the Suzuki logo, with the bottom right corner bitten off.

Yes, that green area is Rama IX Park. Biking is allowed there but only in limited zones. That limitation, combined with the entrance fee and the fact the park, which doubles as a botanical garden, is usually crowded, means local cyclists have been forced to look for another place to ride. Luckily, that place is just adjacent to the Rama IX Park.

Remember that S-shaped lake mentioned in the previous paragraph? That's it!

Known as Nong Bon, the man-made lake is part of His Majesty the King's initiative to prevent flooding in that part of the capital. In case of a downpour so heavy that the existing waterways cannot drain the water out fast enough, the reservoir serves as a "rest area" for the excess water.

At normal times it serves as the location of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Nong Bon Water Sports Centre, another recreational space for residents of the surrounding areas and a training ground for cyclists from many parts of the city.

Now switch from Google Maps to Google Earth, which gives you satellite images of virtually any chosen square metre of the planet's surface, and zoom in on the lake. You'll see that there is a road running along the water's edge.

Yes, that's the road shared by bikers and joggers who frequent the Nong Bon Lake for daily exercise. It's a pity the road doesn't go all around the lake but covers only three-quarters of its circumference. It would be better as a big loop. (Actually, there is a single track that goes through the remaining part, connecting the two ends of the road. Recently it was blocked, for safety reasons, I suppose.) Anyway, what is available, 2km or so of well-paved surface with very few cars, is decent enough for daily or weekend training.

Then there's the scenery. Apart from the road around the lake, there are also side roads that run along the length of the narrow, tree-covered strips of land that partition the lake, giving it that S shape.

For the more adventurous, a variety of obstacles are on the roadside for them to hone their mountain-biking skills, from roots and ruts to moderate drop-offs. After the ride, you can work out selected muscles at the many open-air exercise stations next to the car park and the water sports centre.

If you visit the lake in the evening, make sure you don't leave too early because this place boasts one of Bangkok's most beautiful sunsets.

Now, despite Srinakarin Road's disastrous traffic, I bet some of us are already envying people living there a bit.

Well, see you here again next Thursday. Until then, if you have questions, news or biking insights you wish to share, please feel free to send an email to pongpetm@bangkokpost.co.th or go to "Freewheel Bangkok" community page on Facebook.

Pongpet Mekloy is the Bangkok Post's travel editor and a mountain bike freak.

Nong Bon

GPS coordinates: N 13 41.303 E 100 39.509 Trail condition: Shaded asphalt road with beautiful lake view. Distance: Roughly 2km each way. Getting there: From Srinakarin Road, about 1km north of Wat Si Iam, veer east onto the Chaloem Phra Kiat road that leads to the Rama IX Park. As you pass the park you’ll find Soi 43 on the left-hand side. The lake is right at the end of the lane. Parking: There is plenty of space for parking at the water sports facility. Food & drinks: A beverage stall is near the gate. Nothing else. What your family can enjoy while waiting: It’s a nice park. A family picnic would be a great idea. Accommodation: None. Go home.

About the author

Writer: Pongpet Mekloy
Position: Travel Editor