Lots to do but first it was time for a little R&R
24.03.2010 - 28.03.2010 30 °C
After a day recovery and general chill-axing after the crazy journey the day before we decided it was time to go and see what Chiang Mai had to offer. We booked a trip to do 'Flight of the Gibbon' – where you get to fly through the jungle canopy on zip lines and rope bridges! It was great fun being up high and learning about the wildlife in the jungle. We were even lucky enough to spot the only two gibbon's living in the area – one male, one female. We were told it's very unlikely to even see one, so to see both was incredible.
After the experience was over we took a long walk to the nearest shopping mall to find a cinema, where we watched 'How to Train a Dragon'. I loved it.
The next day we took a share taxi to Tiger Kingdom. A place where it is possible to get up close and personal with lions and tigers by actually getting into the enclosures with them! This was something I had wanted to do for a very long time, so needless to say I was extremely excited. I also felt a little anxious however, as we had heard that at some of this places the tigers are badly mistreated, and in some cases even drugged. From all of our research we concluded that the mistreatment mostly takes place at Tiger Temple in Bangkok. I really hoped that this was true, and the tigers at Tiger Kingdom were looked after properly, as these beautiful creatures deserve to be.
On arrival we chose to spent some time with a 1 year old lion named 'Jonny' after Jonny Depp, and after that we would step into the fully grown tigers enclosure. Nervously I entered the lions enclosure and slow approached the lion, which was in fact very large and almost fully grown! He was beautiful. We were informed before we entered that his brother had recently passed away, and it was clear to see from his body language that he was a little depressed. However, once we got close enough to stroke him and give him some affection he started to cheer up a bit, and he even rolled over a few times as if he wanted to play! The handler obviously prevented him from doing this, as it could be dangerous for us if he got a little over excited, but it was still good to see.
After a short break we headed for the fully grown tigers. There were around 4 or 5 tigers in quite a large enclosure which contained a swimming pool and a few shady areas. The experience was breathtaking. I was in awe at their beauty, not to mention their size! Even at rest they dominated their environment. We spent a while stroking the tigers and grabbing a couple of photo's, and we even got to watch one of the handlers playing with one of the tigers in the swimming pool, which he seemed to be enjoying quite a lot!
Before we knew it the experience was over. Still buzzing with adrenaline we proceeded to wander the park and watch the rest of the tigers. We found an enclosure that contained 3 young tigers that were having some fun play fighting in the water. It was brilliant to watch as they practised pouncing and attacking one another. Something I will never forget.
We continued on to the baby tigers, which were so cute and cuddly. They almost looked like little stuffed toys bouncing around!
We left the park with huge smiles on our faces, and they remained all the way back to our hotel. To round off another great day in Chiang Mai we took a walk through the largest outdoor market in the world! There were stands lining every street, and walk ways that even lead underground to even more stands. One set of stands that really stood out to me was a series of artists that worked with charcoal pencils. Their drawings were stunning. So realistic and detailed. It was a shame our budget wouldn't allow for one of them as a souvenir, so instead we settled for a business card so that we would be able to order one later via email.
After a long hot walk we headed back to the cinema to round of the evening with a film. This time we watched 'Green Zone' – great film, and quite controversial. At every cinema in Thailand, before the film starts you must stand up and pay your respects to the King. A short film is shown depicting some early footage of the King, while the Thai National Anthem plays in the background. It's quite unusual, but clearly shows the level of respect the Thai people have for their King. His face is shown on posters everywhere from restaurants to inside tuc tuc carriages.