Tiger Kingdom

Let me just say, this kind of thing would NEVER happen in the United States… but in Chiang Mai it’s a great attraction.

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Going to Tiger Kingdom was such a blast!  We had heard about it before we came to Chiang Mai, and it’s impossible not to see all the ads for it once you get here : )

You don’t have to pay to enter Tiger Kingdom per se, it’s a restaurant and there’s a snack bar where you can buy fish food for the pond outside the tiger area… but if you want to “interact” with the tigers, you pay a fee per person.  The tigers are separated into size categories.  You can visit the Newborns, Small, Medium or Large tigers.  We read the reviews on TripAdvisor and decided to take the advice that said the small cats are more playful and feisty.  When we got there we realized that the rules actually won’t allow children under the age of 13 to visit the larger two categories anyway.  We told Wesley he might look a little too much like a tasty chicken nugget to the BIG tigers : )

I think Wesley was happy with the newborns and the first tiger we visited… he was almost three months old and we nicknamed him Simba… and then realized that was from “The Lion King.”  That’s not a tiger movie.  Oh well : )

You were also able to hire a photographer to go with you… for only an extra $10!  I thought that was a DEAL… to not have to worry about getting the shot, and just have fun experiencing the tigers.  Someone I know… ahem… someone that I’m married to… ahem… can sometimes forget he’s not ALWAYS a cameraman.  Plus, the photographer knew what was allowed with the tigers.  He told Wesley to lay down on the tiger…

DSC_0018 You can tell Wesley is a little bit confused… like “What???”  But the photographer just kept encouraging him, “Lay down and you can pet him… he’ll like it.”

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Look at that smile!

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Animals have always loved Wesley… he was the only one who got “kisses” from the tiger.

You woke me up!

So tired!

Such a big yawn!  I think he was bothered that we woke him up : )

DSC_0004There were at least four other tigers in the cage after we saw the first one.  We wanted to see all of them.  Next we went to see this guy… who was a little bigger and who we also nicknamed Simba.

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He was feeling a little bit frisky and kept swishing his tail.  The rules for being in the tiger enclosures were very simple:

  • Don’t approach them from the front, approach from the back
  • Don’t touch their face or try to pet their head
  • Don’t touch their front paws
  • Don’t let them lick you (I’m serious… that was on the board!)

Of course you’ll see that Damon ignores almost all of these rules…

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Since Damon didn’t get caught by any of the workers (and the photographer didn’t seem to care), we didn’t get kicked out and were able to go see the “twins.”

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Named Kiwi & Orange, these are a brother/sister that were so playful!  They were tussling and fighting and occasionally letting us pet them in-between attacking each other.  It was too adorable.  They’re still learning not to bite and scratch humans, but they’re allowed to do that all they want to each other.  Damon took this video where you can hear them growling at each other:

Next time I’ll post about our lunch with the big tigers!

Exhausted

We make Wesley a “pallet” every night from the couch’s flat bottom cushion… and almost every night he forgets to take his glasses off.  This was my view every morning as I left for school… and I wouldn’t get to see him awake until I got home at 5:00 or 6:00pm.

Zzzzzzz....

Zzzzzzz….

But school is now DONE!  (Pictures and post about school coming soon.)

I’m done for now, but I’ve left the door open to return to Chiang Mai for more classes. What’s happened since I finished school is that I realized we’re all exhausted.

Not just Wesley.  Not just Damon.  Not just me.  All of us.

We’re exhausted from traveling.

It’s more tiring that you would think.  Constantly changing hotels, packing, un-packing, researching, hurrying to catch flights, rushing to grab taxis… it’s a lot.  Believe me, when Rick Steves says “To get away from it all, you also get away from all the comforts of home,” he really means it.

That’s why we’ve decided to head home.  We thought we would travel for a year, but that was just a random pick.  I thought it would be a more meaningful trip if we got to experience a year’s worth of holidays in another country… (What would we do for Thanksgiving?  What do they do for Christmas? How would we spend our birthdays? etc.) But I think all of us are ready to leave Thailand and come home.

Once we decided to cut the trip off early, it became clear we should try to head back in time for Wesley to start public school again.  Home-Schooling was never my thing…  and Wesley didn’t exactly “blossom” using the computer curriculum.  (Well, that’s not exactly true… he did learn a lot about computers.  I did catch him reading the html code to figure out which answer resulted in a “correct” field.)  But I have definitely learned that I am NOT a teacher and I should value and appreciate the professionals who are!

So our current plan is to fly back to the USA in time for Wesley to start the second week of school (the Tuesday after Labor Day).  We couldn’t get frequent flyer tickets available before then and we were NOT willing to pay the ridiculous airfare!

If you live in Austin, Houston or Franklin… we’ll be seeing you soon!

Back to School

No, it’s not time for Wesley to go back to school yet… I’m talking about me!  I get to go back to school.  Tomorrow morning at 9:00am I will be a student at ITM Massage School in Chiang Mai to learn the art and form of Northern Thai Massage.  I’m so excited!  I don’t know what to expect… but I hope it will something like this:

imagesLet hope that I’m not expected to do anything like this:

imagesI’ll keep you posted on what I’m learning… and how Damon & Wesley fare as guinea pigs for me!

 

 

 

Adventures in KL

We finally got to KL on our adventures around South East Asia!  We flew in to Kuala Lumpur and spent a few days there on an extended visa run.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

But first, we had to leave Thailand.  Which is not always easy.  Because we didn’t want to pay $$$ for airfare from the island of Koh Samui we had to leave a day early and take the ferry to Surat Thani and then get a hotel close to the airport.  Which sometimes leaves me thinking… would it have been cheaper altogether to just pay the rate for a ticket from Samui??

Either way our stop in Surat Thani was pretty good.  The hotel that we reserved (The O Valley Boutique Hotel) was really nice.  It was a big enough room (always a bonus!) and the beds were comfy.  But it was amazing how different a non-tourist destination felt.  As we tried to negotiate cab rides, dinner and an extra pillow at the hotel, we realized NO ONE spoke English and there were NO food options for Wesley.  I think we managed to buy him a pack of sandwich meat from the local “Kwik-E Mart” and that was his dinner.

The Surat Thani airport was crazy.  Instead of leaving the tarmac and entering the terminal to find your bags, you actually end up walking along the tarmac for a long time.  Damon had an AirAsia security guard tell him to go to the wrong area… I wonder how many people end up walking aimlessly on the tarmac??

Surat Thani Airport

Surat Thani Airport

But then we arrived in KL… and sat in traffic : )

The first (and main thing) I can say about KL is the traffic is horrendous.  Worse than Houston, LA, or NYC.  Damon said only Bangkok traffic was worse.  But we still managed to have a great time.  We stayed in the Chow Kit area of town.  It was a LONG taxi ride from the airport, but our room was big enough and we didn’t spend a fortune… both good things : )

Because traffic is so bad, we mostly used the KL Monorail and the KL Light Rail.  They were both fast and cheap.

Waiting at the monorail stop...

Waiting at the monorail stop…

Connecting to the LRT...

Connecting to the LRT…

Rush Hour

Where’s Wesley??

We didn’t realize how busy the monorail gets until rush hour… we went from an empty train (and Wesley standing by himself), to 15-20 people rushing in at one stop.  He was surrounded immediately.  It was hilarious because it was mostly Muslim women who thought he was the cutest thing ever : )  They tried to pat his head, smile and talk to him… and he was NOT having it!

Where's Wesley?

Rush hour on the monorail.

He gets so much attention in the cities we’ve been in… they call him “Harry Potter” and want to pat him.  Thank goodness he’s not blond or a ginger…  he would never be left alone!