I want to start my first herping story with a little introduction to the giants that all Bangkok residents know well – the Asian Water Monitor.

Everyone has seen water monitors somewhere in Bangkok, but they are most famously known from Bangkok’s central park, Lumpani Park. I don’t think that I’ve ever gone to Lumpani Park without seeing monitors there. [In fact, the BBC later did a special on monitors in Lumpani and asked me to consult a bit for their program!] But there was one day at Lumpani that was special.

I had been walking through the park, photographing the herps, when I saw this large monitor in one of the canals:

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

I kept making my way down the canal and soon realized that he was doing the same. I got to the end of the canal and the exercise equipment just before the monitor did, and was able to photograph it crawling out of the water.

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

Soon it was weaving its way through the exercisers. At first it they seemed irrelevant, just more travelers on the day.

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

But soon the crowd got a little bigger, and became a mix of interested onlookers snapping photos and frightened folk trying to get out of the way as quick as possible.

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

The big water monitor, just trying to get where it was going, walked through all the traffic…

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

…made its way over to the next section of canal…

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

…and swam off into the sunset!

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) in Lumpani Park, Bangkok

Monitors generally focus on dead animals, snails, crabs, and other small creatures, and aren’t interested in going after people at all. That being said, they will use their tail, claws, or teeth if they are threatened, and it’s a good idea to leave them alone.

One of the remarkable aspects of a place like Bangkok is being able to see what happens when most people just let the wildlife live – it becomes that rare place where even large creatures like Water Monitors will allow people to see them up close and personal!