Monday, June 11, 2012

Tigers in my Arms

Thai Buddhist Temple 
BBQ-ed coconut
After washing, changing and returning to my own clothes, we left the elephant camp with gleeful thanks to all. On route we stopped for a cold coconut water drink straight from the coconut. It was one of the most delicious drinks I’ve ever had, especially when hot, sweaty and tired. I was told not to stop after the coconut water but crack open the coconut (the lady had a cleaver) and eat the coconut inside. The real gem was a taste of coconut that had been “barbecued”, as they called it. Smoked is the reality. Wow.
We made a brief stop at a Thai Buddhist temple - very very ornate Khermar style with pointy roofs on the outside, lots of dragons and gold and green, and noticing how there was no one there - just Buddha statues and a jade Buddha in front of a golden one - no energy or worship, no monks in orange pursuing koras or lighting butter lamps. There were lots of these ornate temples but no people.
Even Petrol stations have Spirit Houses
Beauty is a Beast
Then we went to my most anticipated experience of all:  Tiger Camp. I had no idea what to suspect. Again, tons of tourist vehicles. You could sign up to have photos taken or just  a love experience with four types of tigers: smallest, smaller, medium and big. (?). Of course we chose the works. We were let pass the tall walls and gates. In a rather limited areas, were huge areas fenced off with black chain fences at least 12 foot high. Inside, in divisions, gorgeous tigers played rigorously in and out of pools and jumping over giant logs and wrestling with each other. (We had been told to go in the late afternoon when the tigers played in the cooling air.) 
Dare ya!
Getting Crowded Here
The older tigers were separated into groups of four and by age. The babies were in a special area which we were allowed into after reading rules - like don’t touch the tiger on the head or front, always approach from behind then they know you aren’t there to play. Of course no loud noise and a bunch of other rules. I was game. So we slipped off our shoes and were let in an area where the smallest were playing and a photographer (who wore a mouth mask) snapped away asking me to do all sort of stupid kind of poses with the babies. Like growl like a tiger. No, thanks. These are REAL Tigers, man. Don’t you understand?
a small guy ?
Did you hear the one......
Then we left that area and moved to another and so forth going through the same poses with the next age level.  In the medium tiger area the beasts were most vigorous and leaping in and out of a pool playing attack or Rambo or something. I sat on the edge of the pool and a pair of them tumbled into the water at the same time and I was showered again in water. Wet again. After awhile, what you look like matters not at all.
The most awesome was moving into the giant tigers’ area. A huge male was sleeping on a slab of concrete. I was told to approach from him from behind and sit on the edge of the table. OMG! this extraordinary orange and black creature looked up a minute from his snooze, and I rubbed his tummy and back and laid on him and 
iced coconut milk soup
The best of the best
held his heavy rope of a tail and wondered why life wasn’t like this all the time. One huge cat more majestic than all the human versions of kings. I breathed along with him a while - might have fallen asleep with the peace I felt - and then it was back to reality. 
Jaed at her Market stall
As we headed back to our Villas, we stopped at a small street market where Jaeb, the cooking teacher, had her stand in order to pick up our masterpieces from the day before. What a treat.! At a neighboring booth was a vendor of the cold coconut milk/noodle/melon/bean/ exotic things soup. Well, it’s not soup. It’s liquid. I purchased a cup. Crushed ice is added to make it really cold. And - well, what else could one ask in paradise? 



Elephants and Tigers to pat and ride on their back. Oh, the joy of being up close and personal with the wondrous wildlife like that!!

Geraldean and Judge said...

How amazing! We just can't imagine you sitting on a table with a grown tiger and petting his stomach! One slight correction--Geraldean would like to be with you at the tiger camp. She would love to pet the tiger. So much for the two of you--two peas in a pod!!!!
If we got close to the big tiger, we would probably be the his dinner.
Hopefully, you won't send a photo of you holding a cobra.
When we were in Thailand in 1985, we went to a small arena and saw a vicious battle where a mongoose killed a cobra. They wanted us to have a photo taken with a cobra, but we declined. We don't like snakes!
When you are in Bangkok, be sure and see the solid gold Buddha and the reclining Buddha. The gold Buddha is huge, but the reclining Buddha is allegedy the largest Buddha in the world. Who knows???
You are having an unbelievable adventure. Taking this trip with you via your trip blogs and seeing your photos has been a great experience for us.
We miss you and will be glad when you are safely home Thursday night.
As always, you are in our prayers.
God bless you.
Lots of love,
Geraldean and Judge