You might notice the months that have gone by since the last travel posts–it’s been a busy start to 2018! This year has included mini-breaks to New Orleans and Manhattan, and my husband and I are now in travel planning mode. We try to journey to one new international destination each year.
Last year was Cuba; the year prior was to Southeast Asia. It’s from this trip to Thailand, Cambodia (read about Siem Reap here), and Vietnam I feature in May’s Travel POTM. Mythical winged birds–or Garuda–guard the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. One of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Thailand, members of the royal family change the clothing of the emerald Buddha each season.
Mythical Winged Garuda Guard the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
When asked what my favorite country in the world to visit is, I immediately think of Thailand, home of friendly people, phenomenal food, and incredible sites. I love visiting it so much that my husband and I are preparing to journey there in the near future during an upcoming Southeast Asian vacation. Making this my third trip to Thailand, I began to research new things to see during our initial couple of days in Bangkok.
The recent passing of Thailand’s long-serving monarch, King Bhumibol, certainly shed a sad light onto my planning, as the nation is now in a mourning period. I did find these recommendations for tourists from the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT); these guidelines mentioned Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace would be closed for funeral rites. From a past visit, I recall that both are stunning architectural sites–and this inspires November’s Travel POTM™. This photograph, of a Grand Palace guardian, was taken on a sunny May afternoon and remains my desktop image…reminding me of colorful, historical Thailand.
It was like any other day in Thailand. After a long drive, we arrived at the temple to serve breakfast to the monks. While they were eating, we then bottle-fed the two-month-old tigers, before having playtime with the baby tigers. If this seems surreal, it was. After spending the days prior sunning in Phuket and at a business conference in Bangkok, we took about a four hour drive to the Tiger Temple and started an unbelievable day.
Feeding my two-month-old tiger
My six-week-old baby tiger cub
Baby tiger reflecting on life
Giving my two-month-old tiger a bath
Two-year-old tiger jumping for trash bag on a stick
Walking my pet two-year-old tiger
The volunteers at the temple started us off with the younger cubs, and by the afternoon–after walking, bathing, playing with, and strutting various ages of these amazing creatures–we were no longer phased by a few hundred pounds of potentially deadly felines. They were now our friends. Perhaps we should have been a little terrified, as we watched these older tigers launching across the water at each other as they “played,” but we were naively happy to spend an entire day with them.
My absolute favorite part was playing with the six-week-old baby tigers. Although they had huge paws, and one can imagine how big they will grow to be, these cubs looked exactly like large kittens. And they meowrrr-ed and sang just like their house cat relatives. One of the highlights of the entire trip to Thailand (which I certainly have a lot of blogging fodder to keep me busy for a while) was a day trip to the Tiger Temple.