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Same Same, but... a little bit different!

Hurry up and Wait!

THAILAND | Saturday, 28 December 2013 | Views [1216]

Getting up early this morning was a significant chanllenge and the alarm was snoozed a couple times before we pulled ourselves from bed.  Our driver was scheduled for 8:00 and living care free, and without hard deadlines to meet it felt like a bit of a chore.  We made ourselves presentabe and were in the lobby with a couple minutes to spare.  Too bad the driver didn't show up until 8:35!  Thai time...

Our tour guide today came in triplicate, a guy and two female trainees that first explained they were students learning the job.  We all piled into a Tundra pickup truck, orininally with the two girls sharing a single seat in the front and Tim and I spawled out in the back.  We thought that we must be dropping off one of the girls, but after a stop at the office it became apparent we had more guides than tourists on  our tour.  We offered one of the girls to cram into the back with us; she graciously accepted.

The first stop was Mae Sa Elephant Camp, located about 30 kilometre from the Chiang Mai walled city.  The drive took about 40 minutes through morning rush hour traffic and we thought we would be late for the 9:40 elephant show.  After getting our tickets was were whisked away to our seat, skipping a portion of the amusements (washing the elephants in the river and feeding them).  Tim's orignial attaempt to get us an elephant ride failed with the attendant explaining that all the tours had booked everything.  Clearly, our strategy had failed us... or had it?

We watched the elephant show, probably the most lively elphants either of us had every viewed.  The elephants were walking around, swinging and blowing their trunks; all awhile the trainers ran them through their routine.  They kicked soccer balls, took hats off their trainers head, threw darks and even painted a very nice picture; which they were happy to sell for 2000 baht ($70).  Many have complained about the theatrics of the elephant show arguing that it is unatural to subject them to petty entertainment; however, I would suggest that these elephants, and their trainers, really looked like they were having a good time.  Not to mention they loved getting fed sugarcane, bananas and coconuts.



While we were enjoying the show, one of the tour agents that Tim spoke to while attempting to get an elephant ride approached us with one of our guides asking if we were still interested in a ride.  Yes!  We were whisked away for the immediate departure and in the commotion Tim gave our guide 1000 baht for the 800 baht ($27) ride.  We hopped on the giant elephant and we were off.  

I would have prefered to ride bare-back, but I can understand that a seat is safer; it certainly did not feel safe.  Our elephant appeared to waddle more than the others and with every step, our seat would rise and fall with the motion of its steps.  On flat ground it was not issues, however Mae Sa is set on the side of a mountain.  The entire 30 minute ride was either up or down hill.  I enjoyed the rides, but Tim white knuckled it worst than driving through Toronto traffic in rush hour.  He thought that any minute the straps would brake and we would tumble down the hundred feet to the bottum of the valleys we passed.  Silly Tim, it's at least Thai safe...

Elephant Ride

The ride felt short to me, but Tim was happy to be on solid ground.  We made our way back to the show area to find a baby elephant posing for pictures.  It was too cute to pass up.  We fed the baby some bananas and sugarcane for while I recieved the nicest hugs and kisses.



Mae Sa area is quite the tourist trap; the road is dotted with many snake, monkey, and croadile shows; butterfly santuaries, traditional tribal village and various botanical gardens.  Every place we passed had a couple tour busses parked outside waiting for the guests they had brought to enjoy a Thai experience.  We confounded that people come to Thailand to enjoy the culture and experience Thai life; yet they pack into busses, eat only at resturants and stay in 5 star hotels.  Not exactly experiencing life as Thai's see it; not unless you're talking about their jobs.

We decided to skip most of our planned stops and go directly to Tiger Kingdom.  While the place is definately a tourist trap, for 1260 baht per person ($42), you can get up close and personal with 3 of the 4 sizes of tigers housed at the camp.  Many have charged that the tigers are seddated, but after a few minutes at the camp anyone with common sence and experience around normal cats could see that the only drugs used at this camp is probably their daily vitamin.  The cats all appeared active at times, sleepy at others.  The real reason you can get so personal is the cats are exposed daily to humans from the time they are only a couple weeks.  Additionally, the camp only allows access to cats under 24 months at which time they become too agressive, unpredictable and therefore, unsafe.

We paid our fees and checked out the place.  The had an eleborate que system that automatically slots you in the next available viewing.  It was very busy and most of the cats had at least 20 groups waiting to go in.  The tour groups had prebooked times to fit them into the other activies, unfortunately another benifit of a tour which we would not enjoy (althought they paid twice the pice for the same thing).  

After about 40 minutes, we go into our first cage, medium cats that were about 4-6 months old.  

Medium Cats

The wait for the large and baby cats was quite long, but worth it.  The large cats were quite scary to be with becasue their size and unpredictablilty.  One snapped at Tim a couple times for tickling it's feet.

Big Cats

Us and the Big Cat

The babys cats were cute and I can see why they are the most popular.  The can be playful and cuddly but the bites are a constant reminder that you are playing with “wild” aninmals.



That's my Knee your Chewing!

After 3 hours at Tiger Kingdon we were getting tired so we hoped for a quick return to our hotel.  There is nothing quick about Thailand however, and the 30 KM ride too over an hour in stop and go traffic.  We were happy to finally get back to our hotel, grab our laudry and head off the the laudry mat.  I stayed with Tim this time as he promised a foot massage at the night market.  After 90 minutes we were done, but felt very rushed to get back to the hotel and down for the 7pm shuttle to the night market and Muay Thai Boxing.

We arrived a couple minutes early to the lobby and sat with the normal crowd waiting for the shuttle.  It had been very punctual all week, an odd feeling in Thailand where 15 mintues late (and more) is the norm.  At 7:45 Tim asked the counter if their was a problem.  The lady called the driver and apparently had woke the guy up, clearly it would be a while.  We let the other people in the lobby know the news and offer a couple French Canadians to walk with us; they did and in our conversations we regifted our beach travel guide to them.  It was only a kilometre to the market, we could have already have been there if the shutle wasn't late.

The market was as rushed as the remainder of the day, hurry up, wait.  We arrived 1.5 hours before the fight started but atfer the long lines to get food, it was already almost time to go to the areana; no massage for this girl today.  

We arrived early to the boxing event, secured great seats at ring level, only about 10 feet from the ring.  Like everything else today, the event annouced it would start 30 minutes late.  We chatted up an older American, Ron, from Hawai.  Even though he lives in a paradice, he travels to Thailand yearly to enjoy the relaxation of the culture and the cheapness of the country.  

The boxing was great, they started with the featherweights and finished with the main event, a heavy weight from Singapore challenging a local.  The medium weight, most experienced were probably most entertainment, however the female from England got a kick to the face that restustled in an instant bloody nose.  Additionally, there were a couple knock outs and a challenger Sweeden (and one of the main events) only lasted about a minute in the ring before a knee to the gut made him turn whiter than he already was and almost faint.  All-in-all it was a very enjoyable event, including the half time show that was the Thai version of cheer leaders; a dance (punching and kicking) group that could probably kick my ass any day...


Bloddy Nose

Knock Out

Heavy Weight

Half Time Show


Tags: mae sa elephant camp, muay thai boxing, tiger kingdom


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