TravellingStrom

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Grabbing The Sleeping Tiger By The Tale, Good Idea Or Not?

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 19, 2013

I had a late morning start, but that was OK as I had plenty of time. I was planning on going to the Death railway museum, but while I was doing some Geocache research I saw one that has special events happening at 1pm, so I decided I would go and see that first. Just as I was heading out I was waved down by Shonney and Fintan, the two Irish travellers I had met up in Luang Namtha, Laos when I was stuck there 🙂 They are in town for a few days, so after a quick chat and arranging beer time for later I chuffed off north again for only 40km, along the same road as yesterday until I reached the Tiger Temple.

This temple, and it is an actual Buddhist temple, although the actual Buddha image and temple is hard to find, has been looking after the welfare of Tigers since 1999. They started by looking after ones seized during smuggling operations and now have many new cubs that have been born and grow up here. It is touristy, it costs to get in, it costs if you want to take special photographs and extra again for the exercise session. I may have been a bit naive but I went the whole hog 🙂 And I enjoyed myself as well 🙂

After buying your entry ticket, it is a bit of a hike up to the tiger area and today my legs were super sore, especially my calf muscles, the rocky ground did nothing nice to the soles of my feet either, once again wearing thongs! 🙂 On the way up there are deer, water buffalo and wild pigs wandering around, I had to sign a release form before entering in case I get eaten or hurt.

At the top of the pathway the cats are chained to metal stakes, groups of tourists then get to walk with one on a leash down to the Tiger canyon and get their photos taken on the way down.

As each tiger is brought into the enclosure it is once again chained to a stake and the tourists sit under the shade until all the tigers are inside the enclosure. There are numerous multicoloured handlers everywhere.

After this, you can get a free photo or donate some more and get a number of photos, I donated as I thought it was for a good cause 🙂 The free ones are just patting the tigers, the paid for ones are with the heads in your lap. I found out here the cats are very docile, this is their sleep period but are used to being moved around. The monk behind me is the Abbott, the chap that started the whole thing.

I was a bit concerned about doing this but they assured me grabbing a sleeping tiger by the tail is safe!!!!!

As it turned out, it was 🙂 This session lasted a little while, but I had also bought a ticket to the exercise session which does not start for another hour and a half. So, that gave me a chance to go and find the Geocache that was the real reason for me being here 🙂 It is called of course Tiger Temple. As it was not hidden due to construction, I just had to go ask for it at the office, so it was a simple find in the end 🙂

Once that was achieved I went back through and checked out a few of the other sights in the park, these include Buddha statements in stone, and other animals, like Moon Bears and of course the tiger cubs.

After all the photo session had finished a mesh cage was built inside the enclosure, about 20ft from the waters edge. WE, the tourists were inside the cage while the tigers were let off the leash and coaxed into swimming, jumping off rocks into the water and fighting amongst themselves, although the last was natural 😉

The handlers were on the other side of the cage with the tigers, which was only chest height anyway and seemed to be in no danger. The following two videos will give you an idea of what was going on.
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Now, I have since found out this is a major tourist trap and the cats are probably drugged, but I did not know that at the time. I will say at the time I enjoyed myself, although I was surprised the cats allowed so much manhandling, the old kitty cats at home don’t allow this much, so I guess the drugging is true. I also found a very disparaging piece written about this place on the net, after the fact of course, but in all fairness, here it is… Wikitravel.org If I had read that prior to going there, I may have just done the Geocache, as it is outside the temple area, but there you go, I have been struck by heaps of hindsight on this journey, it can join the rest. 🙂

Late mail, it seems I may have been duped, according to an investigation this is a seriously bad facility, I am ashamed I visited it and now wish I hadn’t, hopefully nobody reading this will either. I will also add a note to the Geocache site so these things can be known prior to entering 😦 here is another article on the investigation to Tiger Temple- Illegal Wildlife Trafficking, Animal Cruelty and Tourist Safety Risks and Tiger Temple, Thailand – the Truth Behind the Mask

Unfortunately it is too late for me, but maybe others will now be better prepared to make an informed decision

So, I headed back, it was quite late by now and needed to get freshened up for a birthday party at the Aussie Rules Bar that I had been invited to. This is birthday girl number one, or should I say birthday Ladyboy, this is Nam

And birthday girl #2 is Salli, this is Bob the bar owners wife and not a construction worker called Brian, OK Alan 😉

General fun was had by all, tucker and booze abounded, the staff consumed a fair bit too, the pole dancing was optional 🙂

And we even had a visit from the dried fish seller later in the evening 🙂

Needless to say it was another late night, but a very enjoyable day and a great evening with some nice people. Although Shonney and Fintan must have got sidetracked as they were a no show.

Cheers from Kanchanaburi
TravellingStrom

9 Responses to “Grabbing The Sleeping Tiger By The Tale, Good Idea Or Not?”

  1. Ron2wheels said

    Glad you found the Wiki article Richard.
    The Abbott is a crook and the authorities who have been letting him get away with it for many years get a piece of the action too.
    Take his robes off and he’s just another Thai crook.

    Glad this is why you went there ” …. go and find the Geocache that was the real reason for me being here … “

  2. Ron2wheels said

    and this,

    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/thailand/4043_the-tiger-temple-in-kanchanaburi

    More research will find articles about land theft to expand the ‘zoo’.
    ALL Thai authorities are paranoid about the shady dealings of this place becoming publicised internationally because of the massive revenue the place generated and the numbers of crooks with the fingers in the pot … many in uniform.

  3. Steve Hand said

    Once again Richard your on the spot reports are first class..especially as you take the time afterwards to follow up and write the less tasteful aspects of tourism. We can all do our bit to save the world around us, trouble is that too many want to make money while doing it..or giving the appearance of doing it. We are the only animal who will screw another for the sake of a dollar.

  4. gina j said

    Kudos to you for posting honestly about thus. And digging up & sharing the info.

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