Regretfully, there are so few places these days where a simple day trip can lead to being violently torn apart and eaten. Pity, that...
Walking the jungle, there’s nothing like the feeling of being in the wrong place at the wrong time simply because a half ton carnivore has suddenly appeared. Nothing like looking snarling death in the eye to make ones’ morning!
Of course, in the past, I wouldn’t have exactly known.
No one – except for every women I have ever dated, of course - has ever questioned my masculinity. Still, my risk taking was usually limited to eating big vats of popcorn while helping Batman fight the Joker on the big screen. That’s why, wandering down Kao San Road in Bangkok, I was intrigued by ads – at Mr. Goblins Travel Agency – for a Buddhist enclave known to all as the “Tiger Temple”. This particular ad featured a photo of a Thai lady standing besides a very large tiger. The lady can best be described as looking like a slice of lemon meringue pie topped with whipped cream. The tiger looked exactly like a very large tiger. Only, bigger.
Mr. Goblin is a young Thai gentleman who works 48 hours a day helping travelers go everywhere in Asia. In exchange for this, he gets a pittance of a commission. To add to this tragedy, the new generation of spoiled foreign young brats will thank him for his research and then go book the journey themselves if it means saving a Thai penny. Amazing, Mr. Goblin keeps smiling. Between smiles, he informed me that the Tiger Temple was a reasonable distance from Bangkok. A one day hired car was feasible, but it was best visited as part of a multi-day jaunt to Kanchanaburi; which is a large town, with its share of history and hill scenery in the vicinity. Some suggest the area as an easier to get to version of Chiang Mai, but I don’t think so.
Cheating Mr. Goblin out of his penny, I promptly caught one of the van shuttles that run several times a day from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. I then caught a taxi to Blue Star Guest House, situated, like its brethren guest houses, on the River Kwai. Rooms here run between $5 USD for fan rooms to $20 for AC. Yes, it is the Bridge over the River Kwai we speak of, though visually the historical bridge site isn’t much to see.
I had the hotel book a visit to the Tiger Temple for the next morning. $16 includes a round trip shuttle. Pre-trip instructions included “don’t wear red, it excites the tigers.”
The concept is simple. You stand, sit, touch, faint, or otherwise associate with the completely free tiger. Your friend takes the photo. Everyone else waits for the tiger to pounce so they get the real photo. Somewhere in all that everyone learns a lesson about Buddhism and being compassionate to animals that could break your neck with one playful bite.
But, did things go well, or is it my ghost writing this?
Or perhaps, in a surprise twist, is it is the tiger writing this?
Or perhaps, in a surprise twist, is it the Buddha writing this?
Stay tuned to find out!