“Adorable!” I immediately cooed as I watch him jump up into the air to try and catch the toy leaves made by his trainer.
On the other side, a man was petting him on his belly. In response, he rolled over on his back, similar to what my dog Shaia would’ve done.
I think I melted in uber-adorable alert.
I posed my camera to take a video of the huge “beast” that would normally eat your head off ala Life of Pi.
I know I say beautiful one too many times in this blog, but there’s really no other non-bullshit way to say it.
This animal was beautiful.
Before coming to Chiang Mai, I never really thought of doing the Tiger Kingdom. Normally, I would prefer to skip all the expensive attractions just to save money.
And at the price of 840 baht or Php 1170 for the big and small tiger (set), this would definitely be considered an expensive attraction – even more expensive than the Angkor Wat temples that only cost $20 or about Php 900.
But just standing there watching the huge tigers that were twice, three times my size…heck, I was mesmerized.
We were given tickets to the tigers we paid to see. For a few minutes, we waited at their lounge for our batch to be called. It wasn’t too long though.
When the trainer finally called, I couldn’t help feeling a little scared. I did, after all, just read an article a few weeks back about a girl who got bitten by a tiger in Thailand (but reading back now, that was the Tiger Temple in Bangkok).
The trainer lead us to the cage for the small tigers. We had to read their guidelines:
No flash photography, we can’t stand in front of the tiger, we can’t run otherwise the tiger would think we were playing with them. We had to follow the trainers at all times.
Ahh, you don’t have to tell me twice, I thought. I kinda love my life.
Then we were called in.
We walked carefully inside the cage, which wasn’t too big. There was about one other pair who was already inside the cage attending to a lone tiger while a group of three tigers lazed on a ledge.
Our trainer lead us to the trio and said: “Lie down.”
My friend and I just looked at him.
“No, lie down, it’s okay,” he said and I believe he must be laughing inside.
He crossed over and sampled a pose for us.
My friend and I just stood there for awhile, looking at each other, probably testing who’s going to have more guts to go first.
I don’t remember who went to sit beside the tiger first. But I do remember how fast my heart was beating then.
In a few minutes, I could be corned Brenna! But he didn’t pounce. He did get up a bit for us to take pictures, and even yawned.
Boy, this animal is absolutely gorgeous.
It’s like being in Simba’s movie! ADORABLE!!!!
Once we had enough of taking pictures of the cute, cute, cute tigers, we headed out and waited to be called into the big tiger’s cage.
While the small tigers were seemingly friendly, the big tigers were seriously huge – and they were only 20 months old!
I liked our trainer in this part of the tour. The trainer introduced us to the tigers. And whenever the tiger would growl or look at me in some way, he would simply pat (yes, I wrote pat) the tiger on the nose playfully and the tiger would behave. It was ADORABLE!
The thing is, while I was partially scared to be eaten alive in front of all these tourists, I have to admit these tigers have a certain gentleness to them. It really does seem as if the trainers love them and vice versa.
We took photos by the pool as the tigers ate their lunch. From the view my friend took the picture in, my tiny frame is practically only the head of Jack, the tiger.
When the trainer took us up to the stage near the lounge area, we took some photos with another tiger. As she lay on her side, the trainer instructed me to hug the tiger, to spoon her, but I wasn’t all that willing to take the risk – especially when the tiger suddenly looked back at me, probably thinking I’m some kind of delicious bones to sink her teeth on.
The trainer just patted her nose and she was back to resting. Cute!
Even my friend, who had so eagerly wanted to do this, now seemed slightly hesitant to get close.
After awhile, I took a few pictures of her lying on her back and I noticed how peacefully beautiful she looked. It was one of those awww-I-think-I-might-melt moments.
And then, the trainer started playing with the tigers again. While one tiger wanted to fight with Jack, Jack was only interested in his toy leaves.
Our crazy trainer took a picture of us while Jack was playing in the background. As Jack leaped into the pool, he sprayed everyone around, including me. But the photo? Definitely a keeper.
When Jack finally caught the leaves, he growled, mightily like all wild tigers must do. I watched, in awe, at the beautiful animal, whom I was so fortunate enough to spend some time with.
Now that’s one experience where your money is totally worth it.
The Tiger Kingdom is a 40 minute motorbike drive from Chiang Mai.