My joy at Erawan waterfalls and horror at the Tiger Temples!
Kanchanaburi Travel Blog› entry 265 of 658 › view all entries
February 25th, 2008 – by: Deats
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Paul and Maddie (England)The four of us were all feeling a bit rough on Monday morning, but we managed to drag our behinds out of the Hotel and grab a light breakfast on Rambuttri. Thankfully our only task for the day was to catch a taxi to the bus terminal and then sit on a bus for several hours on our way to Kanchanaburi. As Paul was paying for our room, we stayed at Sams Guesthouse, which was a little more expensive and had a lovely setting, although i thought the rooms were a bit overpriced. Not wanting to do anything too strenuous, we ventured out a couple of times to eat and generally lazed around town for the remainder of the day.
Tuesday started with a BLT sandwich, which gave me some much needed energy and shook off any remaining hungover cobwebs.
The waterfalls at Erawan are set over seven enchanting levels, located in a forest that is inhabited by monkeys, butterflies, snakes and lots of wasps. Paul had clearly done something to irritate the animals, as a wasp stung him on the toe and a butterfly even fancied its chances to take on the soft lad. Whilst there was no knock out blow, i would certainly have put the little insects ahead on points.
Swimming in one of the cascades, we also found foot eating fish were problematic, as they nibbled away on our toes when we got into the water.
Wednesday was thoroughly miserable, as it rained for almost the entire day, so we sat in a restaurant and played Ludo and cards. When the weather finally cleared up around 16.00 we took the opportunity to walk to the Bridge over the River Kwai, which holds great significance for its role in World War II. Countless Allied troops died constructing the 'Death Railway' which ran from Thailand to Burma, whilst bomber planes constantly tried to blow up the bridge, to disrupt the rail link.
We walked over the bridge, which still has trains crossing it daily and it was quite sombre to think how many lives had been lost in constructing the rail line. On the Asian front this project was seen as one of the keys in gaining control of the region, so it was quite sad to hear some Russian tourists moaning that there was nothing to see and asking 'why is this so special'. It would be like going to Stalingrad and saying 'whats there to see, whats so special'. Its not always about what you see, but more about what you can imagine happened there.
We sat in a restaurant on the banks of the River and at the foot of the Bridge, drinking a beer and watching a train trundle over the fast flowing water - not literally you understand, that would just be stupid. In the evening we went out for Dinner and i enjoyed a particularly good Pork Corden Bleu and banana milkshake and washed it down with a couple of beers.
I was really excited about Thursday, it was the day that i got to return to the Tiger Temples, somewhere that i had raved about for the last five years. I had stumbled upon this place in 2003 quite by chance, as it wasn't in the Guidebooks or plastered on advertising boards all around Bangkok. Back then monks looked after the tigers, you could only approach them quietly from behind, and it felt like these were beasts that you really had to tread carefully around.
A large car park was jam packed with tourist buses by the time we arrived and after forking out a hefty admission fee we followed a path to where people were forming a long queue to see the Tigers. I couldn't quite believe how many people were there, surely the tigers were going to get agitated by this? Well maybe they would have if they hadn't of been knocked out with drugs.
The tigers literally had their tongues lolling out and the "keepers" would smack the animals, pull and tug on them and drop their sagging heads on to the tourists laps for photos, who would say "Oooh i can't believe how placid they are" What the fuck! Look at them, they are sparko, they aren't moving, and if one does appear to be coming out of its coma, some kid quickly runs over and sprays a bottle of liquid into its mouth, at which point the tiger slumps in a heap.
It just infuriated me how people kept saying in disbelief that they couldn't understand how they were so tame, how wonderful it was. One "keeper" was saying it was because they had just eaten and were very peaceful after this. I would love to take that lying shit to the jungle after a tiger had just eaten and get him to pull its tail and yank its head around and see if it was still so timid and placid. Quite frankly, it made me sick, and i urge you NOT to visit this place. All the money goes into the owners pockets, the poor tigers get drugged and kept in shitty conditions, i feel quite ashamed of myself for having photos with them, in hindsight it was wrong.
The rest of the "zoo" / "animal prison" had peacocks and wild pigs roaming around, and a sorry looking eagle caged up. There was only one monk there when we visited and he was playing around with two tiger cubs. When they got a bit feisty they had a drink and went docile all of a sudden. It must be a fairly potent tranquiliser to have this effect on them. From the first visit i was told that it was the monks personal interaction that kept the tigers calm, but now its clear that there is another more effective method. I left feeling thoroughly disgusted and questioning how the hell anyone in their right mind couldn't see what was going on there. In a country that had animal rights, the monks and their colleagues would be locked up for treating the tigers like this, in Thailand not only the authorities turn a blind eye, but all the tourists do too, criminal, really criminal.
NB: Erawan Falls has seven tiers that are called 1) Hlai Keun Lung 2) Wang Mutcha 3) Pha Num Tok 4) Oke Nank Phee Seah 5) Bua Mai Long 6) Dong Prouck Sa 7) Phu Pha Erawan
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