Enough with the shopping already, I thought. Enough of hanging out in the city. I wanna go outside Bangkok this time, there's so much to see out of town! But particularly, there're these 3 places I've missed time and time again and have been longing to visit - the old floating market, the tiger zoo in Si Racha and yes, the incredible tiger temple Wat Pa Luangta Bua which I'm sure you've seen on TV and in magazines.
(monks at the Wat Pa Luangta Bua tiger temple are the tigers' guardian)
I remember when Abraham (my hero, the ex-vet of Zoo Negara :P) took me to visit MegaGah, our already fully grown hand-raised male, in his enclosure. Tame he was, but the animal's incredible charisma and that silent energy, made me feel so powerless and small. Being close to a tiger like this only overwhelms you with an involuntary gush of fear and nothing more than pure respect.
Now I've anticipated seeing cubs so much I was literally shivering with excitement while quequeing for my ticket at the Si Racha counter; like when candy of sorts are thrown at a greedy child who can't decide what to grab but knows she wants it all, I was so excited I felt lost. Go to 'Pig Feeding Tiger Cubs ' first? Or 'Feed Tiger Cubs with Milk Bottle'?
'Take Picture with Tiger' first or see the 'Happy Family'?
2 Golden Retrivers, a pig & a tiger all in one enclosure.
These poor doggies looked miserable, filthy & uncared for.
Couldn't help but wonder if they actually LIVE in there for real? Are they even taken out for walks?
Maybe start with the Tiger Tunnel first, whatever that is. And then do all the other animals later...
Si Racha Tiger Zoo is about 2-hours drive from Bangkok, down south on the way to Pattaya, located in the Chonburi province. I hired a hotel limo at only Baht3500 (compared to Baht3000 for a public cab) to take me there, wait and take me back. Well, I think this is the best way to go after getting hell from Federico for hiring a public cab at first. He's right, better be safe than sorry. It's long distance afterall, you never know...
It's all good, totally traveling in style; lounging on cream leather seats with blasting a/c and grooving to the greatest hits of Micheal Learns To Rock the entire journey (the 'Rocky' soundtrack would've been equally corny but at least more apropriate la). It must have been 10km or so from destination when the driver started gesturing frantically to the shocking pink signboard bearing an arrow + a 'Frosties' tiger pointing to the word TIGER ZOO, like every km of the way. Although I speak little Thai and he almost zero English, we both understood each other from animation, the excitement awaiting. He, name's Yong, was happy for me and was very helpful. By the way, I decided later to book the tour company he was working for, to the Tiger Temple the following day.
Finally arrived at Si Racha Tiger Zoo. The entrance fee is Baht350. Visually, this place reminded me of Zoo Negara, only a little more run-down. Apart from those interesting activities I've already mentioned, the ticket includes the crocodile, tiger and elephant shows and pig racing too. And pig doing calculation?? That, I missed.
There're also other attractions like Scorpion Queen (girl standing in a cave with scorpions hanging off her t-shirt) and Crocodile Eggs-Breaking Festival (you can help 'hatch' incubated croc eggs & watch hatchling come out of shell - I saw photos). You can even take pictures with tame baby crocs at Baht150. I can see why this zoo is such a hit not only with tourists but the locals too.
What i thought as absurd, irritating and infuriating is behind a glass enclosure full of adult tigers is this jackass African guy & a chick, put there to force tigers to pose for pictures. Yup, he hits the tiger's face with a stick! I couldn't not do anything, so tried to make him stop (heh one day the tigers will return his favor - what goes around comes around...).
Then you can of course pay Baht50 to bottle-feed tiger babies - I think that's dirt cheap, for the experience you get! Like I did, you can ask one of the girls to take your picture while you feed:)
And then there's the crocodile show where the guy slides around with the giants, kisses them and puts his arm in their mouths. The girl however, does her stint by inserting her head into the croc's mouth. Although I find shows like these meaningless, I'm dumbstruck at the possibility of doing it at all without getting your body parts bitten or ripped off! How in the world???
Overall it was a good experience. With the tigers, extraordinary. It was kinda beyond what I had expected. Rates were reasonably cheap for both feeding and picture opportunities so that's great for everybody!