Sheridans, Tigers, and Wats, Oh My!

When we woke up on Saturday of Jodimoon, we had one goal: to eat fruit from a market. BK the researcher and planner of our trip had identified a particular market that we were aiming for, so we did our best to consult some maps, and off we went. Though we knew we were in the vicinity, we wandered down many narrow streets and asked a few people to point us in the direction. I found the atmosphere charming, and once we bought some cold coconuts with straws from a street side stand, rather tasty.  We finally located the market, and I got to introduce Kristen and BK to pomello, which is my favorite fruit here. They even sold it with chili salt so that they could experience it the way locals actually eat. I decided on week one when I accidentally put too much chili salt on a bite of guava that I was mostly going to steer clear of the mixture. We ate some goods and then went in search of coffee and a tuck-tuck.

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One of the adorably decorated street corners that we passed.

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BK leading the way down the skinny streets.

On Friday, before I arrived, BK and Kristen had spent the day at an elephant farm feeding, petting, bathing, and riding elephants. Initially, they thought that they could do that and pet tigers before I showed up, but timing didn’t allow for that.  Yay!  This means that we needed to hire a driver to take us to the tigers and then drive us to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. We found a cute old man in a red tuck-tuck that looked just like the rest, climbed in, and off we went.

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In the tuck-tuck that looks exactly like the one you can see through the windows.

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There was a segway tour following the tuck-tuck for awhile. This of course made me extremely jealous and nostalgic for my plan to become a segway tour guide in Baltimore.

After riding for half an hour, we arrived at Tiger Kingdom. I felt a little guilty for getting to engage in what would essentially be a dream come true for my large cat obsessed nephew. I had also had some fears going into the weekend that the animals at the elephant and tiger places would be ill-treated or drugged. I know that animal tourism is popular, but I sometimes worry about the pressure that it puts on animals. However, BK had done some careful research and found places that were hailed as humane facilities. Though I was extremely glad that the tigers we were about to pet were not drugged, I was also a little nervous about stepping into cages with animals that could eat me. We decided that we would pet baby tigers (0-3 months), “small” tigers (3-6 months), and adult tigers.

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We started by petting the little babies who seemed harmless. We were told that baby tigers, much like baby humans, sleep at least 18 hours a day.

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Though we were encouraged to always approach tigers from behind and not get in their faces, we did get to see a trainer playing with one of the babies. He didn’t have to follow these rules.

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Kristen with a sleepy baby.

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Brian sleeping on a baby.

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One of the babies who was awake and content just to watch us.

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Then, Kristen moved on to petting a “small” tiger. This group of tigers were my favorite. They were playful and obviously loved their trainer.

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BK with a small tiger.

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While petting this small guy, I was being splashed by another tiger who was diving in and out of the pool beside me.

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The tigers loved their jungle gym equipment.

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Kristen using the tiger tail as her mustache!

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I could barely reach the little guy on his perch.

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BK petting the tiger.

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The trainer tied some leaves to a long stick and the tigers were determined to capture those leaves.

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My favorite of many jumping tiger photos.

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Kristen with an adult tiger.

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I loved the nap spot of this one.

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Tolerant tiger.

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BK is scarier than the tiger. He had worked out defense strategies to save Kristen and me from attacking tigers. What a gentleman!

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One of the best shots of the day.

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The trainer posed this tiger on the table for photo opportunities, but the tiger was much more interested in what his friends were doing.

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As Kristen was petting table tiger, his one friend was walking around on the log behind her. At one point the trainer had to step beside her and encourage the second tiger to keep walking.

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He did keep walking…right onto the table. Kristen kept her cool through it all.

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Then, despite my attempts to get out of it, I was sent to pet the table tiger.

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His friend came back, and I was less composed than Kristen.

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Though the adults were less playful than the smaller tigers, they still enjoyed some water sports.

After our fill of petting tigers, we headed back to the tuck-tuck for a drive up the mountain Doi Suthep.  This was when we discovered that not all tuck-tucks were created equal and that ours was decidedly less well-maintained. As we belched black smoke and experienced many jerky gear changes, we longed for the top. It was a long process because in addition to the 2 way traffic, there were crowds of people hiking up to the top. As much as I love a good long walk, I was glad to not be outside inhaling any more of the black smoke from vehicles that seemed fairly unconcerned with avoiding contact with the hikers.

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smiling despite the bumpy ride

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When we finally parked near the top, we found a little rooster to lead the way.

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Because it was a Saturday and there was a special event for college students, the temple was extremely crowded. One of my friends reminded me it is best not to complain that the crowds of worshipers a religious site interfere with tourism. Good reminder.

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Selfie in the crowd.

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walking up the stairs to the temple

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You can only kind of see that the sides of the stairs are made of a dragon’s back. It was really beautiful.

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I didn’t get to take many pictures inside the temple because we didn’t want to interrupt the ceremonies, but I did get this one of an emerald Buddha.

Upon our return from the Wat, we went for a walk to find some snacks.  Then we went back to the hotel for a swim and some showers before heading to the night market for dinner and some shopping.

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This was our pool at the hotel. I attempted to help Kristen and BK renew their vows in the water since it was their one week anniversary, but I wasn’t so good at knowing the words. I am willing to study though if any of you want me to officiate your weddings or recreate them on your honeymoons. Just let me know.

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While Kristen showered and got ready, BK and I posed in our Vietnam tshirts that I got in the airport on my way to meet them. Essentially, we look good dressed in socialism.

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A Vietnamese poster child if I ever saw one!

I didn’t get any pictures at the night market or of our delicious dinners, but it was a full and wonderful day with beloved friends. I am lucky indeed that they have always enjoyed my third-wheel company.  I miss them already!  Jodimoon Part 2?

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2 Comments

  1. As you expressed in this post, animal tourism in Asia is a hard thing. While it’s an amazing opportunity to see animals up close, they aren’t always treated very well, especially in Thailand. Even many of the places that claim they do not drug their animals still do, though I have to say that these tigers seem very alert in your photos! Also be careful of the elephant refuges. The one in Chiang Mai is actually the one reputable one in Thailand, the rest treat their animals poorly even while claiming to be helping them. I’m glad you had a great experience and were able to find places that treat the animals fairly.

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