Thursday, December 24, 2009

I really love your tiger feet

Tiger snacks?

Right about now I'm thinking my more devoted readers are throwing up their hands in disgust and saying great, where are the TIGERS?!!! For God's sake, woman, you promised us tigers!

OK! OK! How about this fuzzy little fellow for you?

Is he not adorable?

After long deliberation with myself, some imput from you, many conflicting viewpoints from the internet, and even talking with Mike about it, I decided:

No Tiger Temple. At least, not to go with the kids among the adult tigers. What if something went wrong? Was it really worth it to expose Bethy and Thomas to these animals? Could we perhaps just see and handle the tiger cubs? That would be memorable. They'd love that, right?

I went to Djo, our hotel owner, with my question. I am too nervous about having our kids around adult tigers, I said. What are my options?

We hemmed and hawed back and forth. On impulse I asked about the Kanchanaburi Safari, the one that had allowed us to pet that beautiful leopard cub back at the bridge on the River Kwai?

Oh, he said, my kids are nuts for the safari. They want to go all the time.

Magic words. Works for me. I arranged a driver for the next morning, and what did we see when we first pulled up to the Safari?

The enormous and unmistakable orange and black striped shape of a full-grown tiger, draped majestically over a low lying table.


Well, in the words of Dr Seuss, what would you do?

Oh, oh no you di'nt, you say.

Yeah, yeah we did.

And it was just fine.

The tiger was not soft, more coarse haired, but warm and utterly, dangerously alluring with those eyes, that patterned fur, those giant, giant paws...

Then, without any sort of remorse whatsoever, we did this:

leopard cub

and this:

(for the record, baby tigers drink very fast!)

and, what the heck, this:

feeding a lion cub

with these little guys too:

It was 100 baht for group photos with each animal. All of 3 bucks,$12 total, and despite how the pictures look, it felt very, very safe.

None of us could believe it.

When some other tourists showed up and were more interested in photographing Thomas and Bethy, the animal handler jokingly made us understand, with gestures and broken English, that we should charge 100 baht for photos of our kids.

Hmmm. Tempting.

Oh, and then we went on the Safari.

Seriously, I don't know what the Tiger Temple offered, but after paying a minimal entry fee I plopped down 20 baht for a nice bucket of bananas and a little bus drove us through herds of eager deer, bears, lions and tigers (the driver rolled up the windows for those last 2 sections), buffalo, of all things, and then to the section where I'm pretty sure I laughed the hardest I have ever laughed in my entire life. Ask Mike.

No, really, bar none. I laughed with such abandon it's lucky no one with the authority to put me in an asylum was present.

What made me laugh THAT hard?

The giraffes.

These gorgeous beasties, immeasurably gentle for their great height and size, stuck their large heads and long necks right into the bus without hesitation and began politely eating our bananas.

I honestly have to say this is the funnest thing I can ever remember doing. At one point I had one giraffe head behind me and two in front of me, with their soft fur and long lashed eyes, asking for food.

If I had room we would SO have a giraffe for a pet.

I mean, this was total happiness, right here.

Happy holidays everyone, wherever you are, and, for the new year, Happy Year of the Tiger!


Anonymous said...

You will have to go to South Africa and see the real thing in their habitat ,and you will love the prices there. Trust me.
S from Seattle
Have a Merry Christmas and thank you for all the joy you share.

Abid said...


Jeni said...

Love it!!!

*Paula* said...

Woah! That is something else! What an adventure. I would be freaked out I think! Merry Christmas Natalie!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian said...

Merry Christmas! What a fun story with fun pictures to end my Christmas night.
Thank you.

Carol Penney said...

Your family adventures are fascinating! I love reading about everything you are doing. Natalie, you are such a talented writer. I'm serious, you need to publish a book about all of your experiences.

Happy New Year!

Megan said...

Natalie! OMG..i am laughing and crying and wishing i was THERE!!! Once again, your writing is absolutely amazing. What an adventure you are all amazing amazing amazing adventure!!! Look to the moon on New Years, it is a blue moon and i believe in places on this planet there will be an eclipse?? ( i may have made that up in my head...) Merry Christmas, Happy new year, i will have a beer and a coffee for you each!! Stay safe, cherish each other ( i am sure you do) live well, happy travels, Megan

Linda Beeson said...

Wow, my grandsons would be in heaven!!!