A couple weeks ago when we were still in India we saw the most amazing picture of a women sitting with a full grown tiger. At first we thought the picture must have been digitally altered, because everyone in the internet cafe was staring in shock at what looked impossible. Apparently not. Yesterday we went to that tiger temple in a small village outside Bankok. Years ago some villagers found an abandoned baby tiger and brought it to the monks to raise. Over the years the monastary has become an animal refuge and they now have over twenty tigers. They allow visitors to visit the temple for two hours in the afternoon when the tigers are napping. We had some pictures taken with the cats and then we just spent some time watching the three month old babies napping. Luckily for us, one of the staff at the temple approached us and invited us to come back the following day to experience some one on one interaction with the cats while they were awake. Off the hundreds of people that came through that day they only selected five people to come back the next morning. It was an offer we couldn't refuse so we rented a scooter and woke up at 6:00am the next morning for the long drive. When we arrived we saw saw three week old cubs and spent over half an hour playing with some older cubs in their cage. It was amazing!
Afterwards,we walked the nine month old tigers from their enclosures to the canyon where they let them loose to play. If you think walking a big dog is challenging, try walking a predator like this. There are so many things to think about. You have to keep your legs behind the tigers shoulder and you can't let the tiger get too close to somone's back. If they do get too close they jump on that persons back and instictivey go for the neck. It happend at least once while we were walking down, but the guy didn't get hurt. It's a crazy feeling to walk so close to such a huge predator, knowing full well that it could kill you.
Once we were down in the canyon, all the tigers were let off their leashes. They played at full force for over an hour while we stoof only feet away. Once awhile they would run full speed towards us only to stop inches away. A couple of times they tried to bolt out of the canyon, but the tiger handlers were really quick and caught them. It was quite an adrenalin rush to watch.
After the tigers had spent themselves pouncing on eachother and destroying basketballs and soccer balls we walked them over to their enclosure and gave them a bath. In the midst of getting soaked and trying to stay away from the sharp end of the tiger we forgot to take pictures.
This is my favorite tiger. He was really gentle and playful.
This is Nathaniel's favorite picture. He has a tiger by the tail!!!
Later that afternoon we went to cool off in some waterfalls.
This was the second pool of seven pools that poured into eachother.
The river was full of fish and then nibbled on us whenever we stood still. It was a little weird.
Ahh, some much anticipated street food at the end of a long, but great day.
P.S. Loretta, if you read this message, please send me your address. I have lots of postcards for you. - love Joce