Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yes ma'am, that IS a Tiger

My report cards are done and I can almost taste vacation. It's always the last few days that go to quickly for you to finish everything you need to but also seem to drag on painfully. In the past couple days our group has been able to acquire our flight from Ho Chi Minh to Phu Quoc (thankfully Vietnam Air isn't as touchy as Air Asia) and book our bungalows on the Island. So many ends remain untied, especially when it comes to the Cambodia portion of our trip, but I almost like it better that way.

Now last weekend I should have stayed at school to finish my report cards but once again I felt wonderful Kanchanaburi calling my name. I had planned this trip with my friend Josh and in the recent weeks he had decided to not return to GES for our second semester. This was going to be our last hurrah so I was totally committed. It was a perfect travel group, four of us in all. Josh, Me, Shaela and a new friend, Stephen. Because it decided to deluge on Friday night right as we left for the bus station we ended up having to wait for quite awhile for Stephen to forge is way through downtown traffic in a taxi to meet us there. Two hours later we just made the last bus out.
Saturday was dedicated to Erawan Waterfalls, the same place I go every trip to Kanchanaburi, except this time there were a few changes. For the first time the sun was shining and also, the elusive monkey's, which there are signs warning about but I have never actually seen decided to show up. We kept our distance, knowing how monkey's can be from past experience but it was funny to watch them steal plastic bags and other needless things from the onlookers.

As the afternoon wore on the clouds began to role in. Not a good sign and since I hate driving motorbikes in the dark, and even more in the rain, we decided to pack up and leave. Go figure the moment we decide to head out it begins to downpour so badly that we couldn't see. We pulled over at a covered restaurant and waited it out as we drank shakes and played a few rounds of BS. Of course this period of waiting caused us to leave later and half our ride was spent in the dark.
Once we got back to our guesthouse and had finally eaten dinner the night was pretty amazing. We sat on our balcony and played RAGE and talked for hours. I don't think we went to bed until after 1am.

One Sunday morning we stopped at the apple guesthouse for breakfast (their Banana Pancakes are so amazing!) and then headed over to see the Bridge since the boys had never been to Kanchanaburi before. It was SOOOO hot out. Miserable actually. Shaela decided to sit in the shade and wait while we walked out on the baking hot shadeless bridge over the river Kwai. I just can't pass up photo ops even if I had been there before.

After about a half a hour of this self inflicted heat torture we got back on our motorbikes and, armed only with a crude map set off in search of the infamous Tiger Temple. We crossed the river and drove and drove until we were positive we had passed it or were lost. We stopped for directions and go figure it was still further on. The entire way there had been signs for all sorts of different activities, pointing you in the right direction, but none for the tiger temple, until you actually got there.

It cost 500Baht to get in (about $15). That was hard to take in considering my guesthouse room and motorbike combined for two days/nights was 500Baht, but we paid it. The tigers are in what they call "Tiger Canyon" which is more like a small abandoned quarry with a fake waterfall in one corner and a couple trees. The sheer number of workers here is overwhelming and made the experience a little awkward. We had to take off our bags and leave them on a bench. Then I had to give my camera to a very unenthusiastic man while another man grabbed my hand and led me from Tiger to Tiger. Now, don't think of me as too daring here. This tigers are all chained and very lethargic (drugs possibly?) so the whole time they were just sitting there chilling. When we walked out of the tiger area we were approached by an Australian volunteer who informed us that for an extra 500Baht we could be but in a cage type thing near the waterfall and get to watch as the tigers played freely. Um, possibly interesting but way to rich for my blood.
After we saw all these grown up tigers we headed up the trail a bit and were able to see some tiger cubs. The were totally cute but a little sleepy as well. We also saw a joint smoking monk, our only indication that this was part of a temple at all. After a few more photos with the cubs we headed out and were able to enjoy some of the other wildlife, cows, boars, goats, pony's....
Overall I'm glad I went to the Tiger temple and I would recommend it to others. Getting to be up close to a tiger is a cool experience, even if it is practically sleeping.

Now I'm ready to head off to some new and great adventure in Cambodia and Vietnam. Our hotel on Phu Quoc supposedly has internet so maybe I'll be able to do a quick update.

No comments: