Petting a Tiger!
May 05, 2004
I use Thailand as a home base. I hang out here. I drink here. I catch up on email and writing here. But, I never sightsee it. Then I heard about Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua outside of Kanchanaburi where you can pet tigers. I couldn't resist that.
I was terribly disappointed when we arrived at the temple. There is a 150 baht ($4) required donation. We walk to the tigers and find a line of tourists waiting to have their photo taken with the tigers. One at a time each tourist would be led over to the tigers. A quick picture would be taken and then the tourist would be shooed away. Not exactly the experience that I was looking for.
Then our group finds that all the other tourists have left, and we're allowed to spend more time with the tigers. The first time that I got near the tigers to have my picture taken I was cautiously afraid. I only gently touched one's back. But after 20 minutes of watching the tigers and their handlers, the fear faded. The tigers were incredibly beautiful and in the hot afternoon they were docile and lethargic. Of course they are dangerous and there is a chance that they will randomly attack, but I wasn't going to let a little danger get between me and petting a tiger. I was allowed to approach the tigers again and gave one a good scratching behind it's ears and under it's chin while it licked my hand.
It was amazing.
I arrive back in Bangkok and start thinking about my next destination. My first gut instinct is fear - Africa is much more dangerous then SE Asia; they'll rob you and kill you there. But that rapidly fades. Other travelers have loved their experiences. Plus, I've been through the slums of Central America. East Africa shouldn't be any worse than that.
I buy the East Africa guidebook and have a new fear. "Holy shit! I can't believe how expensive it is." Safaris are $150 a day. Climbing Kilimanjaro costs $750. A trip to see the Mountain Gorillas is $300. My limited budget stretches out almost endlessly in SE Asia, but looks like it'll be wiped out almost immediately in Africa.
I do some research and realize that I can, just barely, travel East Africa on my budget. I'm going to have to make some compromises though. The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is too amazing to skip, but I may have to spend only one day there. I can't afford to climb Kilimanjaro, but I can see it from the bottom. Kilimanjaro isn't going anywhere, maybe I will climb it some other time. The Mountain Gorillas on the other hand may disappear - I'll pay whatever I have to to see them.
I'm getting excited. Staying on a budget may be a problem, but from the photos I've been looking at it looks gorgeous.
I just made the plane reservation. I should be in Africa May 17th.
In Phnom Penh my laptop died. I was editing a photo, the screen suddenly tweaked out and the computer never worked again. I wasn't sure if it was the heat and humidity that killed. Or if it was being shoved into a backpack and bounced down the bumpiest roads in Cambodia that killed it.
Well, I found out this week that I didn't kill it after all. It was Apple's fault. They're recalling them! [ link ]
iam friend from Tanzania ifound your site in thorntree if you visit here please just call me my mobile number is +255745866074.so that we could sharing ideas.