Day 18

Pattaya Travel Blog

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Day 18 – November 10, 2007

We hired a tuk tuk driver to drive us the hour to Sriracha Tiger Zoo, to wait for us for 2 hours and then to drive us back.  Even though it’s a tourist trap, Sriracha is one place I will never forget..  Like most 3rd world zoos, Sriracha is probably not the most pleasant for the animals. 200 tigers and 100,000 crocodiles are the main attraction but there is also elephants, kangaroos, camels, deer, rabbits and basically any other animal that happens to be easy to get.  They are all put together in a strange mis-matched type of organization and exploited with pictures and feeding much to the delight of the tourists.  I have to say though, that there is something strangely fascinating about being able to see and touch the animals up and close and personal.  It gave me a very different perspective and ultimately feeling about many of the animals we saw.

By far, the coolest part of the whole day for me was being able to hold and feed the baby tigers.  They feel just like great big giant kittens!  Very soft, but instead of purring they have a vicious, primal growl that you can feel in their whole body if you’re not feeding them fast enough.  I have to say it is not a sound I would want to hear in the wild somewhere in the jungle behind me – and those were just the babies.  

Jared was fascinated by the crocodiles and was more than happy to get his picture taken with two of them once he realized that their mouths were taped shut with scotch tape.  I’m not sure exactly what good he thought a thin piece of scotch tape would do, but it gave him a sense of security so I suppose that’s what counts.  He was far less excited about getting his picture with the scorpion queen, especially when she started taking the scorpions off of her and putting them on to him.  He was a bit unsettled with the first one and by the fifth he was positively frozen as they crawled around on his chest, but he did smile long enough to get his picture taken.  His most famous quote of the experience was, “dude, I can feel their little claws on me…”

Our biggest crime of the day, outside of exploiting animals for our own entertainment, I would say has to be that we succumbed to the street vendor selling crocodile on a stick directly outside of the crocodile show.  We took our little shish kabobs into the show and ate them as we watched the guy pull the crocodile’s tail and stick his head in its mouth and successfully remove it.  I did manage, despite the several beers we had consumed, to convince Jared that throwing bits of crocodile into the tank was probably not a good plan regardless of the fact that cannibalism is remotely interesting in a demented-psychopath kind of way.

The last part of the day was the elephant show which turned out to be much more entertaining than I had anticipated.  We watched elephants dance, tightrope walk, hoola hoop (with their trunks), give Thai massage to two unsuspecting zoo goers and walk on only their back legs.  I was amazed by how fast and nimble they were.
 
The ride back was relaxing and we were able to stop and get beer and mystery meat on a stick along the way as well as napping in between.  We changed quickly and headed out to see more of Walking Street. 

We started at a bar where the girls were eating mini whole fried frogs and scorpions as a snack.  They were all too thrilled to offer some to me at Jared’s encouraging and rather than be rude, I obliged.  It took me a while to be able to bite the head off of the little frog even with the light layer of breading around it which of course gave both Jared and the girls a kick in the pants.  I ultimately closed my eyes and did it – not too bad, not my personal choice of snack, but not bad.  The scorpion on the other hand…  At first they were trying to get me to eat the body and claws, but after watching me stare at it in horror for 10 minutes they finally broke the body off and handed me the tail – stinger and all.  After another 10 minutes of contemplation, I finally managed a small nibble and I will say, it tastes even worse than it looks.  I won’t go into details for fear that I will read this again some day and my revulsion will be relived.

I have to say, it is almost surreal to walk down a street full of aging, 250 – 300 lb western men walking with anywhere from 1 – 3 young beautiful Thai girls.  The bars are packed with 10 women to every man, each aforementioned female vying for the affection of the least repulsive male.  The women have also become master Connect 4 players and will defeat you every time once you are playing for drinks.  It was awe-inspiring to hear the volume change of the “Haaaallooooos” and the “Waaaalllllcoooomees” every time a new subject of prey entered a bar.  Many of the girls come here from the Northern provinces to make money to send back to their families in the North where the wages are barely liveable.  I can barely imagine wanting more than 2 days here to view the spectacle let alone having to live here…
 
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photo by: Kju