March 8, 2012

Tigers and Elephants and Snakes! Oh My!

Day Two - Floating Market & Tiger Temple

Today our eager Emma girls rose early to travel to the highly anticipated Tiger Temple. We had to get up very early in order to beat the traffic jams which are very common in Bangkok. Before arriving at the temple however, we took an exciting visit to the floating market. In order to get to the market we took a small but very speedy boat along a system of waterways. It felt like we were driving along a road! There were houses along the river and the only way to exit those houses was by boat. Each house had it's own little inlet of water that served as a driveway too. Our driver was egged on by our cheering, and each time we would shout WAHHOOOO he would make the boat zoom along at an even faster pace. It was absolutely beautiful on the water, and the scenery was completed by the friendly people who lived along the river houses who waved and smiled at us as we passed by. When we pulled up at the dock by the market we were immediately greeted by a GIANT SNAKE!! The man who owned the snake smiled and offered it to one of the girls who reluctantly but also excitedly offered her shoulders for the snake to rest upon!! After those who wanted to got to pretend to be snake charmers as well, we stepped into the marketplace. 

With tons of Thai trinkets and clothing everywhere, everyone turned on their bargaining skills and began buying everything in sight. While some of us struggled and others were experts at bargaining, by the end of our shopping spree everyone knew how to work the calculators on which we place our buying bids. We had a great time and many of us bought traditional looking linen pants with tons of funky patterns all over them. We soon discovered that many of us had bought the same pants! We were going to be twins! Some of us also got to feed a baby elephant that was just chilling in the marketplace. His name was Olau and he was wonderful, adorable and he loves to munch on sugar canes. We all ended the shopping day with a nice cold drink of coconut milk that we were able to buy and drink straight out of the coconut! As we ended our time in the floating market, with coconuts in hand, we got on the bus and headed to the famous Tiger Temple! 

The entire temple area was surrounded by canyon-like hills and valleys. The tigers are kept throughout the temple and cared for by trained volunteers from all over the world and buddhist monks. At The first tiger picture-taking and petting area, the volunteers grabbed each of our hands and lead us through a ring of tigers! These tigers were older tigers and were kept in check by watchful volunteers. We were allowed to pet the more mature tigers and the volunteers would take our cameras from us to take pictures as we walked through. The tigers were gorgeous and their fur felt like bristles; there  orange and black stripes were extremely vivid. After we saw the older tigers, we headed further up the temple mountains to find the younger tigers! They had two tigers, one was 7 months old and the other was  9 months old. The tigers were sitting by two monks dressed in their traditional orange robes. We were able to take pictures and pet the two tigers. It was incredible to watch the monks play with the tigers; they treated them like dogs! You could tell there was a special bond between the tigers and the monks. As we descended the hills, the monks and volunteers brought out the oldest and largest tiger that is kept on the temple site - and boy, was he BIG! Normally, Thai tigers aren't that large, but he was enormous! One of the elder monks, cane in hand, fed the tiger bottles of milk from sippy-cups as we snuck behind him to snatch some pictures with the grand cat. After a wonderful tiger filled day, we got back on the bus and headed to an authentic Thai restaurant to finish the evening. 

When we got to the restaurant, we were greeted by some very special guests... Pearl and Sa! A current Emma girl and an Emma alumna who both live in Thailand! We ate dinner with both of them and peppered them with more questions about Thai culture.  After a lovely meal, Mr. Tom, our Bangkok tour guide surprised us once again. We stepped outside and lo' and behold a beautiful boat waited for us on the River Quay! Tom took us on a beautiful nighttime tour of Bangkok by water. The glimmering lights and beautiful colors filled the sky as we took in the magnificent city. When we finished our water tour, we headed back to the hotel for a well deserved sleep. See you tomorrow! 

Abby and Ches

No comments:

Post a Comment