Dusit Zoo สวนสัตว์ดุสิต

On my fourth day (full day) in Bangkok I got up really early. Well, early for a person on vacation and I was super excited. I ate breakfast quickly and sat in the lobby, checking my phone and waiting for my ride. I had booked a cooking class that was suppose to pick me up around 8 am and take me to the pier to catch a boat to the class. It was going to be a little expensive but it sounded like a lot of fun. It was what I was looking forward to the most on my trip. The only real thing I had planned. I had had problems with booking it before I left since originally I had requested to be a part of the class on my final day of my trip but they didn’t respond, and when I clarified found out the school was going to be closed for repairs to their dock, but we managed to work it out for Friday. When the window I was suppose to be picked up passed I had a sinking feeling and went up to the front desk and ask for advice. They called the school for me and I talked to them, and in short, they forgot me and I didn’t have time for the rest of my trip to reschedule, so I couldn’t go. It seems a little silly but I was crushed and had to leave the lobby to gather myself. I’m sure having only gotten 3 hours of sleep hadn’t helped. Eventually I made a decision and with stubborn determination to not waste the fact I had gotten up early headed out to the zoo, on foot.

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Now walking to the zoo doesn’t seem that bad, but you have to take into account that I hate the heat. Nearly 100 degrees (about 38°C) with higher levels of humidity than I’d probably ever experienced, and walking in that for 2 miles is a bit much. (3km) Add to this the fact I was wearing jeans because I thought I’d be in a semi air conditioned space that day. (Okay lets be honest, I only packed jeans because I’m a stubborn fool who underestimated the heat)

Getting to the zoo included a lot of awkward Frogger moments of: Can I make it without being run over if I go now? and Is it okay for me to cross here? I don’t see a crosswalk. I made it, usually by following the examples of monks crossing the street and trying to join other people who were trying to get across the street.

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The zoo itself was empty. The people working the ticket booth looked bored, there wasn’t a line, or anyone I could see beyond the turnstile. At first I worried it was closed, even though I had checked before I left the hostel. I didn’t see anyone, let alone a lot of people for most of the day. It was the most bizarre zoo experience I think I’ve had.

Dusit Zoo is the oldest zoo in Thailand, it opened in 1938. It was donated by the King and is also partially a garden. It’s a bit pricier for foreigners to visit, though still pretty cheap at about 150 baht. (~$4.21)

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It took me awhile to find the animals, ending up in a more botanical section by the lake instead of near any of the animals. I was happy though that so much of the zoo was shaded by trees. It made it easier to stay longer on a hot day.

The first group of animals I saw were small mammals and birds and as I neared the enclosure that was surrounded with small bushes and a bar to keep you at your distance the bushes erupted as large creatures rushed away in surprise. We had a mutual fright. What I ran into (like a pokemon from getting too close to the tall grass) were Asian water monitors. At first I had a momentary panic that maybe the zoo was empty because the animals had escaped their enclosure. But then it was too quiet for the zoo to be on alert. And as I wandered around I found these large reptiles everywhere. They were as much a part of the zoo as heat is to Thailand. There were signs up in English warning that the big lizards bite and I found a small bit of info on them in the reptile exhibit that they’re a huge part of the zoo’s ecosystem by eating carrion.

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The zoo has about 1600 different animals and my first stop was at the bird island. I was very confused when I went through the doors into an inclosure with birds just wandering around and flying around freely. I was just waiting to be pooped on. It didn’t happen. (Until later in the day when I wasn’t even in the zoo anymore and just walking around, you can only press your luck for so long)

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It was really weird being so close to the birds. Some were in enclosures but a lot were just wandering around and staring at me.

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Near the seal show was a little refreshment stand where I ordered a thai iced tea (of course) and it was the best and cheapest one I had the entire time I was in Bangkok.

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Plus there were chairs nearby to sit and just relax

I didn’t see any of the animal shows and it wasn’t until I got over to the refreshment stand that I actually saw a decent amount of people, mostly school groups going past on the train. I visited several enclosures and found that a lot of the animals seemed to be wilting in the heat, like the monkeys that were all sleeping and laying flat on their stomachs, or tired elderly looking lions.

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The only animals that seemed pretty happy were the reptiles that were inside an air conditioned space and were mostly just a lot of snakes. Though I also might have just been projecting my own exhaustion and overheatedness on all the napping animals.

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Near where I had lunch (a tuna melt and more thai iced tea) was another pretty energetic animal, a bear that seemed to dance whenever groups of children crowded nearby to watch.

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There were other places to eat. Like a food court that was pretty dead and intimidating, a packed KFC and a 711 (where I bought water). I settled for sitting outside and watching the bear dance.

The zoo also had a shark exhibit that cost extra money and a World War I air shelter.  There’s not much too it, a little bit of information and what it looks like but it’s not terribly exciting. Or at least it wasn’t for me.

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Overall the zoo was an interesting experience. I’m not sure how much more crowded it gets later in the day or on the weekends but I can only assume the visitor amount goes up. There were people driving motorcycles through the zoo or biking which was interesting. Plus you can bring your own lunch and have a picnic at the zoo. There were lots of signs warning that the animals bite and it seemed a bit dangerous for curious children who might want to stick their fingers through the wire or over the top of an inclosure to touch the animals. It was a peaceful experience though and very quiet.

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