For anyone that may be reading and knows me well, you’ll know I love taking part in activities that make me feel exhilarated.
Yet im scared to get on a motorbike (haha).
I’ve jumped out of a plane and done a skydive, I have a fear of the ocean and I cant swim to save my life yet I thought it was a good idea to go swimming with dolphins and just recently I went on longtail boatride that ended with me in tears ( wussy me ). I’ve been on a hot air balloon ride & quadding in outback Australia and aim to do more crazy stuff in the future. cause thats what makes me feel alive.
Before I left for australia, I had an idea of some of the things i wanted to achieve on this trip. It was a plan. Get me, making plans! First plan was to get a visa and a one way flight to australia, work there for 12 months and experiance aussie life and then come home and do something. OK so the first bit was a plan, but let me tell you, whenever I use the P word ( PLAN ) it NEVER goes accordingly.
What REALLY happened was this. I got a visa and a one way flight, arrived in australia, travelled a while, worked in a roadhouse for 6 months in the armpit of australia, 4 months of those was night shifts and then finishing off australia that was of interest and hit the road to asia.
Working in Dingo gave me a chance to have the downtime I needed to suss out a few things in life ( get me i sound like a old woman right? ) it gave me a chance to evaluate a few things and suss out what I wanted. So when I hit the road, I had revisited the ‘to do ‘ list I had ( in my head of course, im not so organised as to have a written list ) and to try my best to achieve these things.
One of the highlights so far had been petting a koala. Ok this may sound lame but actually yeah I love animals. I would have been a vet but i was rubbish at science and maths so yeah that kinda didn’t work out! I’d swam with dolphins which was on my list. Another thing to do was a close encounter with a tiger.
Don’t you just love them? little cats are adorable and actually I am a dog person but tigers, wow, I have one tattooed on my forearm. It was my first bit of ink.
So I had done some research into tiger conservations in Thailand & had found two. One was Tiger Temple in Bangkok and the other was Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai. Some of the travellers I’d met back in Dingo had recently visited Tiger Kingdom and they recommended the place also.
Now being an animal lover, and a person that stands up in what I believe in, I was very wary about the fact that these cats are being held in an enclosed area. I mean even when i have visited Zoo’s in the past, I am 50 50 about it all. These gorgeous animals arent meant to be trapped in a zoo for the entertainment of the human race, but then without these zoos, some of these animals are on the verge of being extinct. If the human race wasn’t so selfish in it’s ways then these animals would be in their natural environment. It’s a catch 22 – what do you do? Maybe I am right maybe I am wrong I am not sure. However I read online some of these reviews for the places.
There were heaps of comments online of these cats being drugged – it really frustrated and annoyed me that if this was the case, that they were getting away with it in the name of religion. I mean Tiger Temple in Bangkok is run by buddhist monks, surely they wouldnt do this right? On my itenary, Chiang Mai was next stop anyway. The Tiger Temple were charged 9000 Bhat for the day trip to theirs – thats equivelent to $300 AUD. That’s ALOT of money. I know Australia Zoo charge $500 AUD for a one on one encounter with cats at the zoo too. This was way out of my budget.
After weighing it up, I figured after getting to Chiang Mai I’d check Tiger Kingdom out. I was super excited but wary but figured I dont know until i go myself. It was reasonably priced and packages were available depending on which cat size you wished to see. I figured it was probably just a one on one encoutner with a cat or two.
After arriving at Tiger Kingdom, I was pretty amazed at what I saw. By the entrance one of the big cats were walking around looking content. I have seen some distressed animals in zoos and safari parks, this tiger looked pretty happy in comparison. After paying and waiting for 10-15 minutes ( it was 9am so pretty quiet still & I chose this time as tiger’s are generally the most active in cooler weather) I got taken by a guide into an enclosure. I opted to see the big cats first. WOW – absolutely stunning creatures. These cats were breathtaking to see, I cant even begin to describe the beauty that they have & just how amazing they really are. It felt so surreal to be sat next to big cats. I mean BIG cats – the biggest one was 280KG in weight – he’s paw was the size of my face! And yet there in front of me, he was there. Just being stunning. And to think these creatures are on the verge of instinction is just heart breaking.
I had decided to see all the different cat sizes ranging from the big cats all the way to 5 week old cubs.
I’m happy to say these guys are NOT drugged. They still have their claws intact and their teeth intact and theres not a single sign of abuse on these animals that i saw. The only marks that were on them, you could tell was from brawls with other tigers. The condition of these animals were fantastic and the staff were hands on with the tigers and you could tell there was a respect between both.
It was great to see on the signs around the place regarding staff trying to sell / abuse animals – if anything was seen then it was to be reported at the number provided.
Again I do feel like its a catch 22, but I just had to experiance this – its amazing and a dream come true for me. So much beauty – they are portrayed as nasty animals that aim to kill, they really are just big cats & the same way YOU would defend your child or family or anyone trying to attack you, they are doing exactly the same.
I hope you enjoy the photographs.