You know the saying; ‘never judge a book by its cover’ well I have to admit that I sort of did, and not because I chose to, but from blatant ignorance and lack of knowledge on my part. So my husband (Ed) and I decided to visit Bangkok, and lets just say, I was beyond shocked (in a good way of course) of this beautiful historical City because of the perception I had from the movie Hangover II; and anywhere you see the news or images of Bangkok or Thailand, you get the floating market or temples. But once we got into the downtown part of Bangkok, (along Sukhumvit Road) it is super developed! It was like, I never left Singapore’s Orchard Road. Giant Malls with multi-levels of luxury boutiques one after another. It left me slightly disappointed as I was looking forward to the more historical parts before it became uber developed. And this is my quest to the Tiger Temple.
We learned that outside of the the central areas, it is still preserved with the traditions and histories; so we planned a road trip for the day to head to Kanchanaburi just outside of Bangkok where our quest to ultimately visit the Tiger Temple begins.
First stop, we visited the beautiful and much talked about Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
It was full of tourists; and a lot of it is a tourist trap with over-priced souvenirs, but the food station boats are a must-try. And beyond the market, the residential canals are quite peaceful and can be explored by hiring a boat for a longer duration. And I say, if you can experience both boat rides, do it. It really makes you feel like you are apart of the traditions of Thailand.
And then we made a stop over at the Bridge over The River Kwai, such a historical place, there’s even a movie derived from the name itself. It’s actually quite an interesting and sad story about (~13k) Dutch and American soldiers captivated in a Japanese Prison Camp during WW2 (1942-43) and forced to build this bridge over River Kwai that leads to Burma (but also died and buried along the tracks).
However closed down for operation and opened mainly for tourists to visit and learn the story. It has a calm vibe despite the tourists, and I think mainly due to the history. Ironically I also happened to be wearing my uniform of monochromatic black on black, so it was very fitting for the mood and paying respects.
And last but definitely not the least, we get to our final destination of the day, the Tiger Temple. If there is one animal in the Animal Kingdom that I am obsessed over, it is the Tiger, the regal and beauty of it’s stripes and eyes. There is something so mesmerizing about these wild creatures. One thing that I am completely torn by is about this place. I know there are pros and cons, like anything else out there in this world.
The biggest pro is that it gives an opportunity for admirers like myself a chance in a lifetime to be breathing and standing as close as I can be with one, and for that, I cannot be ungrateful that such a sanctuary exists.
It all started with a Monk that received a tiger that was raised by a Villager, which soon led to a few more, these Monks started raising them and realized that the tigers were multiplying quickly and needed more room, which means more money was needed, so in 1994 they decided to open the visit to public. Which of course led to a sustainable business. There are a lot of criticism and flack to these Monks, for feeding them drowsy pills, but how else does one expect to get near one? And to let them go into the wild, but once you domesticate an animal, how would it survive in the wild? Like I said, I am by no means an animal activist, and I hear a lot of negativity and flack but I see no action done by nay-sayers. It’s so easy for people to criticize and condemn with little to no common sense at all, but these Monks have been taking care of these beautiful creatures and providing them with food and shelter. It hurts to see them being treated like domesticated animals as they are Majestic felines that belong into the wild, but where and how does one stop what has already been started. They are not attributing to the extinctions, as they are not hunting these tigers down and entrapping them, but working and growing with what they have.
I am truly thankful for this experience, for being able to be so close to these beautiful creatures, and like I said, torn by the praises and criticisms – which I also anticipate from those viewing and reading this right now. And there are a lot of controversy over this, there was even a guy who went ‘undercover’ to expose the truth, but what did that do? It garnered a lot of attention on him, but nothing done to the sanctuary. So in the end it’s a vicious cycle and life goes on.
Some think it’s crazy to be so close to these wild creatures as they can turn and bite your head off. But then, that is no different than walking down the street and crossing paths with a dog or swimming/surfing in the Ocean and getting bit by a shark. I think this has more to do with chance, of course willing to take the risk to put yourself in the situation will make your probability higher, but it can happen to just about anyone.
I could hear my heart beating out of my chest, and even in a controlled area with many staff on site, I was still nervous. But those moments being so close to one is something inexplicable and forever memorable to me.
For those of you that are making a plan to visit, I say, do what your heart tells you to do, and pay no attention to critics for they will always judge. Don’t forget that critics will always exist, and those are the people who live their whole lives filled with nothing but criticisms and little life experiences, because they are always busy judging and criticizing others to be out there enjoying what life has to offer. And trust me, after visiting these different parts around Asia, was an eye opener to my hubby and I. Some good, some sad and some un-imaginable. Growing up in a first nation in a developed Country, we need to be thankful for the luxuries (which are basic necessities) that we have in our life. When we leave our comfort zone, we are the ones that actually become “the hillbillies” because not everyone lives nor have the opportunities that we do.
If you want to check out more info on the Tiger Temple [click here].
If you want to check out that article from the blogger that went undercover [click here].
What are your thoughts? Comment below!
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