A Trip to Thailand – Part 1;;;

September 17, 2017; Indian time 5.30 a.m.; a dream came true when I set my feet in Bangkok, one of the world’s top tourist destinations.  Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand.  It is the favourite spot of tourists with its historic Grand Palace, Buddhist temples, famous nightlife and cultural heritage, every sphere at its peak.



Bangkok

I waited for sometime at the airport but could not find my friend who promised to tolerate me for 2 or 3 days.  I do not know whether he escaped from me.  I tried to call him on phone but could not get him.  It is Bangkok, so I swore at him loudly in Malayalam.  Then, I heard somebody asking me in Malayalam what the problem is.  I was shocked and ashamed to find that somebody heard me swearing.  I looked at him.  He was the tour guide here for a tour group of 12 people from Kerala.  He heard me swearing while he was waiting for his guests.  His name is Ashraf and is from Kodungallur.  I talked about my problem to Ashraf.  He told me that this is a place with heavy traffic and that may be the reason why my friend is late.  Ashraf gave me his phone number and told me to call him if necessary. 


Bangkok to Pattaya Road

At that same moment, I saw my friend smiling at me and holding a placard on which was written my name.  If it was in Kerala, I would have definitely given him a kick, but this is Bangkok, so I did not do anything to him.  I thanked Ashraf and got inside the car with my friend.  Once inside the car, my friend told me that the delay was caused by the traffic congestion and said sorry for the delay.  At first, I did not believe what he said, but as we started our travel, slowly I started understanding what he meant.  I saw roads too full as if there is a grand assembly of vehicles going on there.  It was as if there was no space left. My friend made a plan for our 4-day trip.  Oh, sorry! I did not introduce my friend.  His name is Binulal and his native place is Kottayam.  He is working in a company here.  He has been in Bangkok for the last 5 years.  


Sriracha Tiger Zoo

The plan is to spend 2 days in Pattaya and 2 days in Bangkok.  We took 30 to 45 minutes to leave Bangkok city limits.  With great alacrity, our chariot took the beautiful 6-lane road in the direction of Pattaya.  The distance from Bangkok to Pattaya is 150 km.  On this route is situated the Sriracha Tiger Zoo which is world’s largest tiger zoo.  We decided to start our sightseeing from this zoo.  It is 97 km from Bangkok to Sriracha Tiger Zoo.  We reached Sriracha Tiger Zoo in around 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  We were hungry, so we straightaway went to the restaurant in the zoo.  After washing our hands, we sat at a table and that is when we saw a wonderful sight; on one side of the restaurant, the wall is made of glass and there were tigers on the other side of the glass.


Sriracha Tiger Zoo Wiew

At first, I did not understand anything, but when I took a closer look, I realized that what I saw was true.  I forgot about my hunger when I saw some tigers taking bath in lake while some were fighting with each other.  I enjoyed having food watching the tigers.  Then, we went inside the zoo.  Sriracha Tiger Zoo is situated in Chonburi Province in Pattaya, the army city of Thailand.  There are around 200 tigers here.  Inside the zoo, we were welcomed by beautiful gardens and the beauty of the forests.  I have seen several zoos, but I have never come across a zoo that is so marvellous and giving pleasure to the eyes.  We do not even feel that we are in a zoo, we feel like we are in a forest.  The main attractions are the tiger show, crocodile show, and elephant show. 


Sriracha Tiger Zoo Wiew

I was amazed to see tourists taking photos with big tigers.  I could see some people taking snaps with tiger on their laps and children feed cubs with milk.  There are separate fees for all these.  Here, tigers are like kittens. Next, we went to see the tiger show.  It was a large open stage.  The show is conducted in the centre space which is covered with iron net.  Seven huge tigers came to the centre space accompanied by loud music and a person to control them who was just half the size of a tiger.  The sight of tigers becoming kittens with small movements of a small stick in the hands of this man is awesome.  Then, we saw different performances by tigers.  It is a 20-minute show which includes tigers leaping through rings of fire, walking on 2 legs, etc. 


Tiger Show

Instead of watching the performance, I was more interested in watching the expressions on their faces.  I felt pity for this stupidity.  The reason why I say this is because anybody can understand that these tigers are forced to do all these activities. After the tiger show, we went to see the elephant show.  This show is conducted at a place where there is a gallery on one side and a jungle background on the other side.  Just like the tiger show, at first, 10 to 12 elephants came accompanied by music.  The elephants bowed before the audience and raised their trunk.  In between, there were baby elephants playing around which was really entertaining.  Baby elephants did just the opposite of ring master’s instructions.  This was just like a comedy show.  It was an amazing half-an-hour show where elephants were hopping around on one leg, greeting the audience standing on 2 legs, turning a ring with trunk, dancing to the music, and sitting on chairs like humans.


Elephant Show

After the elephant show, we went to watch the crocodile show.  When we reached the place, we came to know that there is a delay of 1-1/2 hours.  So, we decided to roam around the zoo.  The zoo is full of lovely gardens, greenery of the bushes, and creeks which are soothing to the eyes as well as the mind.  This zoo is the play area of wild animals like elephants, tigers, chimpanzees, camels, different types of pigs, peacocks, bears, etc.  An out-of-the-world feeling is created in our minds when we watch the Scorpion Queen (a young lady carrying plenty of poisonous scorpions on her clothes), tigers hanging out with pigs and tourists taking photos with tigers.  Since the crocodile show was about to begin, we went to the place where it is conducted.  The place is surrounded by gallery and the show takes places in a small lake in the centre.  


Crocodile Show

In the middle of the lake, there is an area made of marble where we could see large crocodiles lying scattered like large pieces of wood.  Most of them were sleeping.  They became alert when they heard the music and screaming of the ring master.  Some of the crocodiles started jumping and some started running around.  Tourists are given a chance to take photographs sitting on top of the crocodile.  The charge for this is 200 Baht (around 400 Indian Rupees).  The major attraction of this show is the ring master putting his head inside crocodile’s mouth.  He comes in sliding on the floor and puts his head inside the open mouth of the crocodile and then goes back.  I watched it holding my breath. We came out after the show.  It costs one 650 Baht to watch all these shows and the sights inside the zoo (around 1350 Indian Rupees).  There are separate charges for taking pictures with animals (which is optional).  We started our journey to Pattaya.  From tiger zoo to Pattaya, the distance is 53 km.  We decided to take rest in a hotel near the beach in Pattaya.  I will continue with the rest of the sights in the next part.

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Ashok S P May-25- 2018 72