Chiang Mai, Thailand - Tigers! เชียงใหม่



Sorry it has taken me so long to write about the next part of our trip to Thailand! Life has been pretty hectic since we got back, and I had NO time! If you missed the first post, check out Bangkok HERE.

Chiang Mai. Oh beautiful Chiang Mai. We got into Chiang Mai very late and grabbed a taxi to our hotel. It was almost midnight and the town was fairly quiet, not nearly as much hustle and bustle as Bangkok. Trevor and I looked at each other, subconsciously agreeing how much better we already liked it here.  So far everyone was so kind, and so helpful. After a cold shower and a good nights rest, we woke up on the hunt to find a highly reviewed breakfast spot I had found online. We of course quickly got lost going up and down random side streets of this old town. We were hesitant to ask for help after our experiences in Bangkok, but figured we had no other choice at that point. We spotted a young man opening up a store and asked him for directions, without a word he just pointed at this man on the street. This sweet man walked us all the way to the restaurant! We chatted along the way, talking about his life and how he was born and raised in Chiang Mai. He waved and greeted those around us as we talked and you could tell all of them were his long time friends and neighbors. Of course the place wasn't that far away at all, and we quickly realized we had been walking in circles earlier. To our defense the streets are tiny little alley ways zig zagging like a little maze all around the city. Even if you knew Thai you could easily get confused. It was so refreshing to meet someone who just wanted to genuinely help us, expecting nothing in return. We quickly learned that everyone in Chiang Mai was like this. A very genuine and kind city.

Breakfast World, the restaurant, sure lived up to it's name! The place was gorgeous. It had all outside seating, and was covered in green plants, and beautiful flowers. It was a mini paradise hidden amongst the local streets of this old city, a true gem. And the food was just as good. We didn't realize how big the portions were and I am pretty sure we looked like we were fitting into the American stereotype nicely, because when our food came out we were shocked with how much there was. SO MUCH FOOD! The guy who took our ordered had given us a kind of weird look when we placed the order and I was realizing why after we could barely fit all of our food on our table, HA! We walked back to our hotel very satisfied and almost too full. I highly recommend it if you are going to be in Chiang Mai.

A gazillion more pics after the jump ;)

POSTS ON THAILAND
Bangkok
Koh Samui
Thailand Extras

 

After breakfast we quickly got ready for our day and called our friend Mr. Bobo. We had met Mr. Bobo the night before when he took us from the airport to our hotel. From our hotel Mr. Bobo took us to the hostel we were going to be staying at for the rest of our stay in Chiang Mai. We had originally wanted to stay in the hostel the whole time, however the first night we were going to arrive they didn't have a room available with air conditioning... if you have ever been to Asia in the summer you would know why you need air conditioning in your room, ha! So we booked a hotel for the first night and after our breakfast headed on over to our hostel. Both places were great and I would highly recommend them if you want the contact information. The hostel was nestled in a garden like setting full of travelers. I loved seeing so many people from all over the world there. So many languages going on in that court yard! Our hostel was amazing. The room was just what we needed, and for only $6.00 a night, you can't complain! After we settled in Mr. Bobo took us to our first adventure in Chiang Mai. The adventure I was the MOST nervous about. Tiger Kingdom.

The drive out to Tiger Kingdom was gorgeous. I loved just staring out my window whenever we were going someplace because if I had the time I would just stare at everything for hours. The people, the streets, shops, and the gorgeous countryside. I had almost forgotten how nervous I was but sure enough the butterflies came back as soon as we pulled up. I had already made up my mind that I was NOT going to be petting any tigers that were not babies. I had seen the pictures and there was no way I was going to be laying down with a giant tiger. We walked up to the front desk and without any hesitation Trevor said he wanted to purchase the pass for all of them. They offered different packages where you could select certain ages for the tigers. New born (2-3 months) Smallest Tigers (4-8 months) and Big Cats (13-30 months). Just so you know there are even BIGGER tigers than that but you are not allowed to be in the same cage as them...if that gives you an idea of how big these animals are.

Trevor looked at me and I stuck to my plan, "new born tigers for me please!" You should have seen the face Trevor gave me. He looked at me and said, "Alycia, we are in Thailand. You may never get the chance to do this again. You are doing them all with me." As soon as he said that I knew, I knew I had to just do it. Fine. My stomach dropped. With two purchased packages to see all the tigers we were on our way. They ease you into it and start you off with the babies. They were so stinkin' adorable you guys. Spunky and playful. Every step of the way they had someone with you. We approached one that was half asleep and the guy had me hold his head, I could barely keep it up! Don't be fooled though, you could tell at even their young age how strong they were. A baby tiger could do some serious damage if it wanted to! We even had the opportunity to feed them. Now that was awesome! The tiger acted as a baby in every way, very excited when he saw the bottle come out and every time he lifted his hand to kind of "hold" the bottle I could feel just how heavy he was! It was so much fun! At one point I noticed one of the babies eyeing me, he started to look like he was getting ready to pounce and the guy with us told me to walk around him. Not going to lie it freaked me out and the instructor distracted the baby tiger. Trevor was of course way more willing to get more playful and aggressive with them, and it was fun to watch them interact.

We moved on to the next group, the "small" tigers. I started to feel the heat. These were no babies, and the babies were scary enough as it was. Let me just tell you that none of these tigers are actually small. I took a deep breath, went in there and laid down with a tiger. You don't actually pet the tigers. You press very firmly on them, so you don't startle them, and you can rub and lean up on them. You don't want to make any quick movements, or touch them anywhere near their shoulders or head. I took the instructions very seriously, obviously. We spotted this big group all sleeping on top of each other and the guide had me go and join them. It was pretty cool laying down with a big group of tigers! When it was Trevor's turn however the tiger was NOT liking Trevor on him. The second Trevor laid down the tiger whipped his head back and growled. Holy Smokes! Heart racing moment! haha We moved on to another tiger that seemed a little more playful. Trevor was excited to spend time with such an active tiger. Trevor had the opportunity in South Africa to play with Lions and he loved it. They were super playful and would basically wrestle with you. Tigers are not like that. They basically have them trained to sleep all day and play at night. They feed them a lot etc. in the mornings to make them more docile for people to be around them. This particular tiger was much more lively, and Trevor was thrilled. Trevor was way more playful and aggressive then they recommend, but the guide seemed to trust him, so he got way more active with the Tiger than most people. The tigers loved it. I about died when I saw Trevor pet the tigers head! (I caught this on camera - I will share a full video of the trip soon!) It was pretty cool, and the tiger loved the attention. The instructors were great and we never felt rushed. We took our time with each tiger in the cages.

We moved on to the big boys. They had two cages of the big ones, separating them for space I would assume. The biggest tiger they had for people to see and "play" with was mind blowing. Did you know the swing of a tiger's paw could break a bear's back? I saw how that would be possible when I saw that paw up close and personal. I swear it probably weighed as much as I do and his paw was larger than my head and so thick. I was about to wet myself laying next to that thing. Talk about putting your entire life at the mercy of an animal, that is how small you feel next to one of these. Just holding up the tail was a work out! It was such a surreal experience.

The last cage we went to a lot of interesting things happened. Remember how the baby tiger was about to pounce me? Well we were in this cage with the big cats and I can see one of the tigers just staring at me, and he looked too interested in me for my taste. The guide stood in front of me and told me it was because of the skirt I was wearing. I was wearing this bright colored ikat printed skirt, and when I walked it swayed. Apparently that is like dangling a toy in front of your cat back and forth. Um. Holy. Crap. The guide told me to just walk a little slower then I normally would. I swear I was in slow motion from that point on! BAH! Trevor was also sprayed in that cage. Right next to this cage, I guess I should really say encounter, there was another one with the largest of the tigers that people don't have access to. He apparently didn't love seeing Trevor so close and proceeded to spray him and the guide. Tigers spray so that they can mark their territory. It signals to other tigers where their hunting grounds are and where they live. Message was received and it concluded such an amazing experience.

I am so happy Trevor pushed me to experience all the tiger encounters. It was such a unique, cool, and exhilarating experience. I will never forget it. Such beautiful animals.

Dying over my face in this one. You guys don't realize just how massive this guy is! It was intense!
Trevor is slightly embarrassed by all the many strange faces he made in these pics. Who can blame him, these things are crazy! If only you could hear the sounds they were making!
Trevor loved giving them a good rub down. They acted like total house cats! They loved it!
It became pretty clear that the tigers loved Trevor. He is much braver than me!

After the Tigers we swung by a little Monkey park they had. We got to feed them and watched a show where we got see tons of different kinds of moneys perform some pretty cool tricks!


We headed back into town and spent the rest of the day exploring beautiful temples that were all around the city. In Thailand, there are temples everywhere! We got some more massages, did some shopping, ate lunch and headed back to the hostel to relax for a bit. We decided we wanted to go to the night market and have dinner. Every night Chiang Mai has a huge market. The quiet city becomes alive and there is so much going on around you. We walked through the market, shared some scrumptious Pad Thai and explored everything going on around us. We noticed these cabaret dressed ladies advertising for a show they were doing that night. Trevor was convinced they were transvestites, but I was convinced they were women. Trevor wanted to ask them, and I wanted to disown my husband. So what does my husband do? He asks some guys next to us if the dancers are women. They don't speak English, so Trevor points to the "ladies" and then points to his you know what. They bust up laughing and say, "Yes, yes!" I was beyond mortified and totally shocked. Those gorgeous ladies were actually what Thailand refers to as Lady Boys, and the show they perform, was called "Traveret" get it? Oh man. I was floored. We decided then and there we would see the show the next night.

POSTS ON THAILAND
Bangkok
Koh Samui
Thailand Extras

27 comments

  1. What a fun trip, Alycia! I love the tigers. What a fun memory to carry out!

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  2. Wow! Looks like a great time! I've always wanted to visit Chiang Mai and this has definitely inspired my trip planning!
    xoxo-KSP

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  3. I can't believe that Trevor got sprayed! Was the smell awful for the rest of the day??

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  4. This is SOO neat! Looks like such a blast!

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  5. Oh my gosh! How beautiful!!!!! they're so cute!

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  6. that looks amazing, but a little unsafe? like, i can see the tiger you are interacting with each time seems fine with you guys laying on it, etc, but i'd be all worried about what the other ones are doing while you're doing that. were there lots of staff watching to be sure that they were all calm? you are super brave!
    b

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  7. It is my dream to go to Thailand!!! How did you go about planning your trip? How did you know where to stay?

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  8. What an amazing experience!!! All the pictures are so cool to see, thanks for sharing.

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  9. Those photos are amazing!! Such beautiful cats...but huge. I'd be terrified by all but the littlest guys.

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  10. Oh my gosh!!! That first picture is just amazing! It looks and sounds like a fantastic trip.

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  11. the pictures are amazing, am glad you met a guy who was willing to help you just for the sake of helping you. there arent many people who are willing to do that

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  12. Amazing photos!

    I've heard some sad things though about the tiger sanctuaries, Care for the Wild did a two year undercover investigation and the results weren't pleasant. You can check it out here: http://www.careforthewild.com/what-we-do/campaigns/previous-campaigns/tiger-temple-the-truth/

    and http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/2013/09/the-terrible-truths-from-thailands-tiger-temples/

    They apparently engage in illegal tiger trade, they are mistreated and the living conditions are not at all what they should be.

    This is definitely not to accuse you two of anything though, don't get me wrong! What are your thoughts after having been there?

    Waiting for the next part! :)

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  13. Oh my goodness this looks absolutely amazing!!!

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  14. What! I'm so jealous! The tiger pics are unreal!

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  15. omg how exhilarating! i would be so tense and nervous but you guys look like you hung around them for a while! what a once in a lifetime thing :)

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  16. These are the most incredible photos!! Wow! Absolutely beautiful. What a fun trip and experience!!
    -Bree @ aBree Fashion

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  17. What the freaking what?! That is completely amazing...oh my goodness

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  18. Bahaha, Trevor would!!
    What an amazing trip! I'm dying over the pictures, I get nervous just looking at you guys with the tigers! Can't wait to show these to Eric!

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  19. You have no idea how jealous I am of your Thailand adventure! I want to travel to so many places but Thailand is for sure in my top 5. I showed my fiance your pictures and he was with you and said he would just want the babies, where as I'm with Trevor and would love to visit them all. Glad you guys had a blast!

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  20. We are in chiang Maui now and lost mr bobos phone number! Do you still have it and can you msg me with it?? :)

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  21. Don't worry, I definitely just binge-read all of your Thailand posts... and now I want to go there. Like tomorrow. How amazing!!!!

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Howdy Ho :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! I have enabled the forum feature on my comments so we can all interact in conversation. So if you leave a question, look back for a reply!