Monday, December 5, 2011

They're grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-good

Not Photoshopped

I'm very glad I finally got the chance to visit Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery (popularly and slightly misleadingly known as the Tiger Temple) on my day out in Kanchanaburi.

Not only for the unique chance to recklessly hang out with these dangerous predators as if they were just oversized cats (though really it's the other way round), but also because I'd read mixed things about the ethics of the place, and needed to see it for myself.

Tiger Temple (วัดป่าหลวงตามหาบัว ญาณสัมปันโน),

It's not like I carried out a thorough inspection or anything, but I was pretty impressed with the set-up - it was different than I'd been expecting, even after reading Oliver's blog which made it sound like the animals were being treated okay (he doesn't even eat animals - even rubbish ones like prawns that no one cares about - so he should know).

Just tiger about

It's still clearly a massive tourist trap that's trying to get as much value out of its stripy celebrities as possible, but the volunteers made it clear that the animals weren't drugged, and were efficient at making sure the tigers were only subjected to the minimum interference possible to satisfy the tourists' vain photo needs by taking a quantity of pictures that would even satisfy a Korean.

You don't have to go far in Thailand to see animals being exploited and mistreated, but it seems all the attention has been good for this place - and with so many international volunteers around, it doesn't seem like the owners could get away with many nefarious goings-on. If you can't trust Buddhist monks to behave, who can you trust?

Tiger Canyon

This is the heart of the enterprise, and Henry Ford would be pleased at the efficiency of the production line. You pay your 600 baht at the park entrance and get placed on the human conveyor belt around the lethargic tigers, spending just long enough in unnatural positions with each one for the staff to take excessive pictures. They really are very good.

If you'd like to spend a little longer getting to know the deadly carnivores, you can pay for a Special Photo and get up to all sorts of hi-jinks, like Oliver did. Did I pay for this cool but unnecessary luxury extra? What do you think?

Oh wait, I was supposed to put my own... goddamn it

Tiger Cub Waterfall

You can spend some quality time with smaller and slightly less intimidating tiger cubs (that could still probably chomp your arms off, if they weren't so polite) by heading over to the less populated waterfall area.

I so nearly kneeled on its tail. That could have been the end

If I tried to fly this kite back in the UK, Health and Safety would be all over that

More gratuitous tiger photos (deal with it)

I totally stole that guy's wallet

Wait... these guys were awake all along? Why didn't anyone tell me?

It was around this point that I remembered what tigers are

Admittedly, they do become slightly less threatening when you see this

I only realised when I looked at these pictures that this positioning was clearly intended for 'hilarious' pseudo-smut photos. I walked right into that one

It looks like I'm giving this one an enema or something

I think this is the eponymous, disappointing 'temple,' tucked away by the exit.
Why not just call it the Tiger Sanctuary or something?

Oh yeah, there was also a goat with ludicrously bulging dugs that wanted to be my friend. Sorry buddy - normally you'd be enough material to base an entire blog around, but I hung out with tigers today

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