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Irene's Adventures

Thailand - Elephants, Snakes & Tigers

THAILAND | Friday, 18 December 2009 | Views [591]

Elephants, Snakes & Tigers

Monday:  The hosts gave us 2 mountain bikes and a map.  We rode about 6 Km to the tiger farm.  We got to pet some and pat their bellies (which they love).   One of the tigers must have felt Ed’s natural aversion to cats because it started to hiss at him.  There were about 6 people standing & sitting about outside this particular cage, but that tiger singled Ed out.

 Then we went another couple Km to a snake farm, where they put on a show with cobras, and one other poison snake, and a couple more that they said were not poisonous, but still bite – which we witnessed as the snakes would actually latch onto the fellow’s baggy pants.  They showed us how they milk the cobras for the venom, too; amazingly right after they put on a show with the same snake!!  There were hundreds of snakes at that farm, and a whole pen of rabbits.  Guess who’s for dinner?? The snake charmers had great fun with Irene.  He came out of the pitted show area and moved toward the bleachers.  Irene was right there and she jumped off those bleachers and was taking off, when the announcer said “don’t move, it will only chase you if you move.”  Bloody Hell – a King Cobra is coming toward me – and I’m to stand still!!!  Well after that, they would swing a snake in Irene’s direction, and while they were pulling a snake out of the box, they whipped a rope (that looked like a snake) at Irene; every time causing her to let out a small scream.  AT the end of the show, we all got to get our picture taken with a Boa around our neck and even kiss it if we liked; Ed did, Irene did not.

On the way back from our biking adventures we got lost.  This area may have some tourist type stuff, but once you get off the highway, it is backwoods!!  Even though we had a map, it was like trying to tell someone how to get from point A to point B but only going through back alleys and forest.  We did meet the nicest people on our quest to get home.  Local people stopping what they were doing to smile, wave, Sawat-dee ka!  Hello!  One girl at the monkey farm (which we didn’t go to, but stopped for directions) jumped on her scooter and told us to follow her.  She stopped about a half Km from our guesthouse, we told her we knew where we were now, but still managed to get lost again.  We stopped at a couple of houses (huts) to ask directions, showing them the map.  Finally one guy pointed at the map and said “we here”.  YIKES were we a bit off in the wrong direction.  Backtracking, we stopped to ask directions again.  The man waved over a passing motor bike who happened to be an expat, his wife knew exactly where we were and directed us home.  Turned out we were very close.  Thank God because it was getting dark.  Remember, we are on mountain bikes on dirt roads.... A good 15-20 Km bike ride, the legs should feel it in the morning.

 

Tuesday:  We decided to head out early for the Elephant farm.  It is about 16 Km from the guesthouse.  Panom did tell us it is high in the mountains but we figured these aren’t really mountains like we see back home, they are more like big hills.  Off we go.  About 4-5 km from the farm, the road started to go up... and up.... and up.  We geared down as low as we could go but still we were powering out.  Finally, we got off and pushed out bikes about the last 3-4 km.  And even walking was a struggle.  We thought we had plenty of time when we started out, but by the time we got there, we barely had time to get a drink of water.  We did manage to go to the nursery and feed some baby elephants bananas and sugar cane before the river bathing show started.  Basically, they take them to the river and scrub them.  Of course, the handlers tell the elephants to spray the crowd, which was cute.  There was one baby elephant that was rolling and playing in the river, like a toddler in the bathtub.  It is funny to watch them when they lay down in the water, their head is mostly under the water but their truck is sticking out of the water about a meter away, like a snorkel.  Then those same bathed elephants put on a show.  The played harmonicas, they played soccer (one kicked the soccer ball so hard it hit a fence and the fence literally blew apart), they painted pictures.  The little elephant that was playing in the river painted the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.  We would not have believed it if we had not seen him do it.  Then we were given a ride (2 per animal) through the jungle to a hill village tribe of people where the women wear those rings on their necks that give them a neck that is soooo long.  Then back to the elephant farm by truck. 

   

The long hill we walked up going there took us 10 minutes to coast down, riding the brakes all the way.  We didn’t get lost getting back to the guesthouse this time.  We made a point of really studying the landmarks for turn-offs in the morning.

Wednesday:  We take another cooking course, with a lovely young lady, Jib, who owns her own restaurant.  She took the restaurant over from her Grandmother, and many of the recipes are from her Grandmother as well as some she created on her own.  It is called Grandma’s Cooking School.  We were the only two students so we got some real personal tutoring in the market as well as at her home – where she teaches.  She is very knowledgeable about natural healing with regards to foods and herbs.  She has a non-malignant tumour in her left eye and she began researching healthy alternatives to curing it.  Although the tumour is still there, the doctors have no explanation as to it shrinking.  Her American husband, Bronson, has lived in Thailand for about 7 years and is heading a foundation sponsored by the Church of God, where they teach underprivileged children and adults various new skills as well as English language.  Most people are farmers, so they try to teach them either new skills or at least organic farming skills.  As in most places in the world, chemicals and fertilizers and pesticides have become all too common way of farming. They are trying to show them that organic and natural is a better alternative, not only for the earth, but for their health.

To be continued......

 

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