Spider Showers and the Eye of the Tiger…

WOW WOW WOW, what an experience! Chiang Mai has been incredible, both relaxing and adrenaline packed. We’re due to leave tomorrow after a week of fun including a cooking school, a less-than-average but in retrospect, awesome, jungle trek, shopping in tourist markets, riding elephants and getting massaged to the max!

The highlight for mum and I here in Chiang Mai however, has most definitely been stepping foot in several tiger’s cages.

There’s a place called Tiger Kingdom here that basically charges an extortionate amount for the privilege of getting up close and personal with these beyond-beautiful creatures.  There’s some debate over how they’re pretty much exploiting them. Having visited and witnessed them yawning in boredom at having their legs picked up and their fluffy tails sung into like microphones, I have to say they probably are being exploited a bit, but some people also say they’re tranquilised and I don’t think that’s correct. The little fluffy tiger cubs were jumping around all over the place and we saw one adult getting very active with a slab of meat being dangled over a swimming pool as he took a bath. We were told they’re just docile in the daytime, usually, because they’re nocturnal.

I hope the tigers are being well looked after, because the experience of stroking those black and orange stripes and touching those huge padded paws, and looking right into those pink, open mouth and yellow eyes is mind-blowing. They’re blimmin’ huge! At one point, the giant female they call Sophia yawned, turned round and looked at me, and for a fleeting moment my life flashed before my eyes. I thought, “holy shit, I’m gonna get eaten by a tiger”, about two milliseconds after I thought, hey, if dying is my destiny today, imagine how cool it would be to get eaten by a tiger!”

Tigers are officially my new favourite animal I think, after lizards. I do like lizards. I admire living things that can stick to walls and still sing beautifully while they’re at it, like birds in the night time. They make a clicking sound, like a teacher’s tut over and over again, only it’s musical. They tut in time with the frogs and the cicadas and if you’re lucky they’ll let you pick them up, at which point they generally head for the warmest part of your body, like your bra. Lizards are everywhere here. You could carry a clicking, singing lizard your bra every day if you wanted to, in Chiang Mai. We saw a huge salamander too, pink, green and brown, living behind a painting on the wall of our jungle camp.

Back to that. Mum did very well as it involved a lot of walking, getting rained on and wading through mud. We had to sleep in a dorm with beds pressed together, so it was more like an orphanage in 1941 than a bedroom for tourists in Thailand… plus we saw a huuuuuuge centipede on the wall in the loo the next morning so I had to wait about an hour before I could pee.

We had a bad rower on our rubber river boat cruise. Instead of steering us round the dangling branches, he directed us straight through them, so we experienced regular showers of wet leaves and jungle spiders. The spiders were immense, evil and brown, the stuff of nightmares. They even floated on the water. Imagine! Luckily I didn’t cry but I did give the guy a bit of a telling off when we got to the other end, at which point we were informed it was his first time on the rapids and he’d never steered a boat before. Hmmm….

Anyway, we’re alive. We survived giant centipedes, showering with spiders and cuddling tigers. And we can both now cook Massaman curry too, thanks to our brilliant class with Cooking At Home Chiang Mai. (Will have to put some more piccies up about that one later).

Oh, we also made a video of the tigers, which includes our brief stop with a King Cobra. Enjoy! Next stop, Kanchanaburi. xx

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