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:
and, what the heck, this:
(for the record, baby tigers drink very fast!)
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.
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?
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!