Big Cat

Kanchanabury

You can get a tourist minibus straight to the Tiger Temple.

This is both good and bad, for the usual reasons. You can't complain about the Getaway-inspired hordes if you found out about the next Big Destination on Getaway.

It's not what it was. The tigers are chained down, now, and you'll be marched through their area by a farang volunteer, not a monk. Each 'tiger patting' session is very tightly scripted.

Partly, that's because of the number of tourists. Mainly it's because what you're doing is horrifically dangerous. People say that the tigers are drugged. I say that I saw one get up and pace, and heard another roaring its head off. The selection of tigers available for patting is adjusted moment-by-moment, according to their relative crankiness.

The Tiger Temple is no longer pure fantasy, but it still does what it says on the box. You will stroke a tiger. The tiger will be in a position to fold up on to your arm and keep it if it wants to. You'll see guys in saffron robes doing things that ought to get them killed, and inexplicably don't.

Go while you can.

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