First and foremost, no the tigers are not drugged. They look docile and are almost always on the verge of sleep, but they aren’t drugged. One of our parents asked if there were any drugs involved. They said that many investigative agencies had conducted drug tests and they all came out negative. They have been brought up on a lifetime of training to respond passively to humans. The place is scenic. The actual tiger temple i.e the place where the tigers actually live is pretty small and commercialized.
There’s a fence separating the tigers from the populace who come to visit. You can ‘visit’ the tigers exclusively only to take photos with them. It’s pretty standard actually. You are ushered in like a herd. There are guides who take you to each tiger in groups of five or solo. One person in a group of five can pose with the tiger’s head in their lap. And it all looks very impressive and you get to say ‘Yo! I posed with tigers, y’all! I am a freaking beast!’ But frankly, I didn’t like it. The tigers are treated kind of rough. And I don’t know, it didn’t sit well with me that they were all chained. So if you like this stuff you can go there. I personally didn’t enjoy it much. The tiger temple is the only place went to in Bangkok that day.
The title is ironic given the king doesn’t live here anymore. The Grand palace here is however used for official events. Me and Joy didn’t go inside because we had the same view about cultural places i.e its crap. So while the rest of them paid 500 Baht to wander around, Joy and me stayed outside. The dress code restrictions were epic.
Every foreigner who came through almost invariable had to buy a flimsy cloth to cover their legs when going in because all of them wore shorts. And man ,let me tell you, it is funny when you see a couple of Australian teenagers go in wearing the most colorful Aladdin type pyjamas I have ever seen. We took a pic with one of the guards stationed outside. We were that bored.
This place is manna for Indian tourists. Everything here comes at a bargain. There are 7-Elevens everywhere. Even the Thai people appear to know this. I see a really nice looking swiss knife/lighter/ some weird thing which does what I don’t know. “How much?” I ask. “350 Baht”, the lady manning the counter says, “but for you I give if for 250.” For me? Like I am her long lost little brother or something. But the electronic stores are excessively cheap. LCD tvs come at around 40% less cost than in India. I try convincing my dad to buy a Dvd player for around 900 Baht. He doesn’t look convinced. Joy and me walk around for a bit looking at lighters and electronic goods. Joy buys a 64 GB pen drive for 400 Baht. (Toshiba) We then espy a nice shop with a sardarji. Since I still want to buy a Dvd player and my dad has given me 500 Baht to spend we head to the shop. I ask how much for the sony Dvd player at the side display. “1000 Baht”, he says in chaste Hindi. Trying out my bargaining skills, I say “no, no 500 Baht”. At which point he looks at me like I am retarded. So I say I will check out other shops and come back. We set out to find my dad has changed his mind about the Dvd player and we come back. To buy it from the same sardarji for 900 Baht. Then we go on for some good old Indian food.
Firstly, it’s “Fanta Sea”, two words, not ‘Fantasy’, because ‘Fantasy’ is a famous strip club and not the ethno-cultural show, as the lady at the office we were negotiating prices for the show, pretentiously told us. The thing is we Indians are like the masters of bargaining. Now Thai people know that. So they start way high. She started out at 1900 Baht and after a round of vehement bargaining settled with 1350 Baht per head. The conversion rate is 1.98 rupees per Baht. After that, we proceeded to the actual show.
The place is more like a huge handicrafts store. Lots of goody shops, lots of picturesque places. There is even, I kid you not, an epic bathroom. At 7:00 the show started. It was a one and a half hour show. Now, frankly I am not a cultural person and nor will I pretend to be. The show comprised performances by elephants and various dancers. The stage is capacious and the cast has a plethora of characters. And somehow, I expect synchronization as a minimum requirement given how may Indian shows I have seen. Don’t get me wrong, the costumes, the stage set-up, the elephants are awesome. Just that there’s a slight lack of coordination. There was an epic 20 minutes of pure unadulterated awesomeness when the trapeze artists showed up. That was the best part of the show. Joy had slept off midway. At one point a least a dozen well-coordinated chickens ran across the stage. That’s the moment joy decides to wake up and say, “Chickens?” with the most confused look on his face. But the show was pretty decent. Followed by the most awesome buffet ever as I mentioned in the last article.
Phi Phi Island
So we set out in the morning and get ready to go on a cruise to Phi Phi Island. The cruise was awesome. Very sunny on the upper deck though. It was an hour and a half long journey. Pretty enjoyable though. Midway to Phi Phi the ship stops so that interested people can snorkel. The guide, who I am pretty sure is gay, announces, “People, we stop now. All interested in snorkeling, we give you one snorkel phreee! We give you one life-jacket phreee! And tonight, you get me… phreee!”. Pretty flamboyant guy, really cool. So several people from our group decided to go, including me. Now snorkeling involves strapping on a snorkel and life jacket and just skimming over the surface of the water. Because of the snorkel glass, you can see the water really clearly. You see such an amazing number of fish, its brilliant. One of my more amazing experiences there. Although here’s a common problem. The snorkel extends around 6 inches above water. So there I was, snorkeling around. I saw a zebra type fish. “Hmm, let’s see if I can catch it. It’s going deeper. Hah! I can follow it. Just a little bit. Just about there…blbglubhlbl!” Blbglubhlb is the point at which salty seawater entered the snorkel, and subsequently my mouth.
Also half a kilometer from the ship there was a bay type area called “Monkey Bay”. So me, Joy and Aditi (one of the girls) went swimming up to the bay. Man, that’s when I really regretted not having a camera. There were so many monkeys around. And there were people carrying around trays with watermelon slices to feed the monkeys. Joy sees a monkey’s tail hanging and decides to poke it. Typical jackfruit behavior. The monkey gives Joy a glare and runs off. We get back to the ship, happy and sopping wet. The ship then docks at the main island, Phi Phi Don where we have a really nice buffet, which of course includes fried chicken.
Oh then Joy and me, proceed to Maya beach. This place was where the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed. The place extends for around a kilometer and a half of pure blue water. There are no waves. Joy and me wade into the water like a half a kilometer in and the water comes just until our chests. Aditi and Misha join us some time later. As we drift there, I realize that sometimes one should just switch off occasionally and drift to realize how inconsequential some things in life really are. Make what you will of that statement. We get back to shore and hurry back to the ship. Once there I realize I have forgotten my glasses and it’s too late to go back. So I return in the ship admiring our, to me, slightly blurry surroundings.
The next day, we decided to relax. So we went for Para sailing and Jet skiing at Patong Beach. Well I went for Para-sailing. I figured that, since I had already gone for Jet skiing in Goa, It would be the same here. Except, it turns out, Joy’s driver let him take the wheel for around the whole time, which was around 20 minutes. Damn, but next time. Para sailing is epic though. Even my mom went and that’s saying a lot. My mom gets scared if I take my scooter out of our locality itself, so this was a big step in terms of personal growth for her. But awesome day man.
Okay, when we watched this show I still hadn’t gotten new glasses. So this account is from a slightly Vision-Impaired person. (+1.75 and +2). But the beauty of the participants of that one and half show of slender grace and delicate skin just blew me away. It was really good. Slightly uncomfortable given we went with our parents but brilliant nonetheless. There were a lot of performances, comprising a lot of cultures including Thai, Chinese, American and even Indian. No nudity. The only risqué performances were the renditions of ‘He had it coming’ from the movie ‘Chicago’ and ‘Burlesque’ from the movie ‘Burlesque’. Oh, and there were these performances by these two guys that were epic comedy. There was this guy who dressed up a Barbie. And a fat guy who dressed up as a female Shakira. He belly danced better than most people could. At one point he went around kissing people on the cheek. One of our dad’s in the first row was one of the chosen ones. It was an epic moment. I would definitely recommend it for watching. Joy even thought he was in love with one of them. Inevitably, we went home to read about the show and found out that all of the performers in the cabaret are Ladyboys. Joy groaned with disappointment and shrugged it off.
James Bond Island
The next day we then proceed to James Bond Island. Really scenic place. A guide takes us on a boat to tour the place. I was hoping we would get to swim there but you can’t get off the boat so I just took pictures of the surroundings. There was Aditi, Joy and me on the boat, along with the guide, who had a permanently bored look on his face. Well, that covers that.
After that we go on to the Muslim fishing village where we are served food. To our utter disappointment we were served vegetarian food because our brilliant guide had somehow assumed a huge group like ours would take only vegetarian food. Huh? What kind of stupid mind-numbingly dumb idiot of a guide would assume that? Now look we are not a bunch of ravenous cannibals, where only killing and eating a living animal will quench our voracious appetites, but when you get served lemongrass soup and crispy baby corn, while the table next to you gets some delicious looking chicken drumsticks and golden fried prawn, you become very very displeased. In spite of all our remonstrations, we ended eating some vegetarian with a side dish of some more vegetarian. Then the girls and moms went all gaga over the pearl necklaces and earrings being sold at the Muslim village and that I am not going waste my time on.
Sanctuary Of Truth
Okay I don’t have it in me to appreciate architecture, culture or sometimes even basic aesthetic qualities of nature. If you are like me, you will find this place boring. You just walk around a lot and stare at stuff. There are goats though and really cute bunnies you can pet. And a really rickety bridge I had some fun trying to cross. But that’s about it.