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Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Tigers, Elephants and Backpackers of Chiang Mai - Page 7

Written by Adam O'Hern
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“Yeah, a lot of people who come at this time of day think that we drug them because they just lay around, but think about it.  It’s the middle of the afternoon what did you expect the tigers to be doing?  They play in the morning and at night, but they like to lounge in the shade when it’s hot,” he explains in his New Zealand accent.  Once stated out loud it seems obvious.

It clouds over while we head to the big tiger enclosures.  As we step up to the first cage, it begins to rain, leaving us as the only group waiting to see the big tigers.  The big tigers are significantly more intimidating than the baby tigers.  Every time I make eye contact, I get the distinct feeling that the tiger knows all of my secrets and insecurities and that he doesn’t necessarily approve of them; this must be what it’s like to meet Aslan.

The rain begins to fall harder, and the trainers let another two tigers into our cage.  Since the rain has cooled everything down by several degrees, we find out once and for all that the tigers are not drugged as they begin to stand on their hind legs and battle like boxers only feet from us.  It’s far more entertaining than the fake Muay Thai fights.

As it quits raining, we head back into town talking about how cool it is that you can play with elephants one day and then turn around and play with tigers the next in Chiang Mai.

“I don’t want to leave,” Dave says as we arrive back at the guesthouse.

“Me either,” Siena replies.

We hang around with Dave until it’s time for him to make his way to the train station.  We all make sure we’ve exchanged contact information, and after a round of handshakes and hugs, Dave finds a tuk-tuk to the train station.

Dave’s departure mixed with the realization that Siena too will be leaving soon hangs over the group that night as we play pool in a local bar run by a Ladyboy who generously allows us to stay well after closing time to finish our game of cutthroat that nobody can seem to end.

In the morning, we repeat the contact info routine as Siena prepares to head to the train station and Kelly prepares to find the people she volunteered with at the elephant camp.  After another round of hugs, I’m transported back to where I began:  I’m in Chiang Mai and have no idea what to expect or do.

In a few days, I’ll head to Vietnam looking for a new series of adventures, and as I write this finishing a Chang beer and a slice of pizza, I can only hope that the friends I find to share new adventures in Vietnam will be as fun and interesting as the ones I found in Chiang Mai.

©Adam O'Hern

(Page 7 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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