Kanchanaburi - From TV To Reality

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July 9th 2012
Published: July 8th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Stroking Grandpa
Yes, from TV to reality.

One evening in year 2005, after taking care of my mom's needs, I was watching the National Georgraphic programme with her before we have our dinner. As usual, National Georgraphic has been known to produce amazing documentaries in which my mom and I enjoyed most. She loves animals and it was a pleasure on my part to relate the stories to her. That evening, it was about the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. What amazes me was the fact, the elder monk, who suffered cancer had to find a secluded place far away from the exotic city he came from, a place where he could find peace to heal his illness. I felt sad for his health but I felt great with happy tears when he took care of a tiger cub brought to him by the villagers. The cub's mother was shot dead by the poachers.

If I am not wrong, the story goes like this. After some time, a wild boar came and settle himself where the monk stayed, a small temple with nothing much to offer and to see. No monks or followers came for him but only the villagers. The wild boar left and came back two weeks later with his family. Other animals, the buffaloes, peacocks and deers came to make this place their sanctuary. Many people soon knew this monk has special gift, special love for these animals and maybe it was the cub's energy that made this possible. Words seem to spread and they (NG) started making the documentary to show the world of tigers living closely with the monks in Kanchanaburi and the committee hoping the tourist will help to contribute financial support to feed the tigers, the monks, the volunteers (locals and foreigners) and the needs of the temple. A local Veterinary volunteered to give medical check-up of the tigers.

It touched my heart and I told myself I am going there in the near future. I want to see the tigers, stroke the tigers and maybe hug them if my guts allow me. It had been constantly in my thoughts to visit this Tigers Sanctuary, but I could not. I was financially stricken and I could not leave my mom to anyone to care for her. She left me in 2008. I started working to earn a decent income, saved up some money
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The Abbot and I posing together
and God was good to me, I strike lottery, small money came handy that enable me to visit Kanchanaburi finally. With the extra money I bought myself a Canon EOS400 and the ticket to my dream.

The day came, my friend Chat (Thai friend) took three days off to take me to Kanchanaburi. I needed his help because I was worried I could not communicate with the locals in Kanchanaburi. At times, he really amazes me; we were picked up by his friend in Kanchanaburi town to take us to the hotel. He happens to be a policeman. The policeman’s father is our driver cum guide the next day. He sure has some good connections. But none of them knew where the temple is. We spent some time driving up and down the road, asking the locals but were in vain and when we had lunch, the restaurant owner showed us the way. It didn’t spoil my day after all.

We were thirty minutes early. Big gates were closed. One should read the important rules before entering the Tigers lair. I particularly like these two: 1. Do not wear RED or you will be the tiger’s lunch. 2.
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Walking to the Tiger Valley with the monk and Grandpa
No low cut, bareback and short pants for the ladies, respect the monks. We saw two European ladies had to shop for something decent and certainly picked a color that do not make the tigers head turn to their direction. Good advises should not be taken lightly.

We saw the volunteers walking the cubs that got us all so excited. The cubs were so cute and adorable that I believe many ladies would love to cuddle them. I particularly like the BIG ones. My friend Chat called me crazy. He was real scared. I paid US$100 to have pictures of the tiger on my lap. The money is to help funding this Tiger Temple. In the grounds I saw peacocks, buffaloes, and some deers but could not see the wild boars. The place is huge but I was on constant watch out for something that may spring on us unexpectedly. Some scary thoughts with goosebumps I may say. Chilly cold wind when we walked a path that led us to the tiger’s ground.

The tigers were all chained to the trees. One to two volunteers attended to one tiger. I saw the first tiger cub, now a grandpa and there is a Bengal tiger that is bigger than grandpa but beautiful, dark goldie brown color with striking stripes. There were more than twenty tigers but I do not know how many cubs, because they were kept in the nursery. For a US$100 you can decide to choose for the cubs in the nursery or to the valley of the tigers. Ninety eight per cent wants to go to the valley. When one of the monks led the grandpa, each of us gets the chance to grip tight on the tigers flesh and walked to the valley. In the valley all of us got the chance to have the tiger’s head laid on our lap. I got the grandpa tiger twice on my lap, led by the Abbot himself, the founder of the Tiger Temple. He looked healthier with no signs of pain and suffering. I believe he was destined to be here for the tigers, to help the tigers from extinction, to tell the world man and animals do get along well, love and trust that bond the friendship but importantly he (The Abbot) save himself. The joy brought back his life when he held a tiger cub for the first time in his arms when arrived Kanchanaburi many years back.

As for myself? My dream came through, from TV to reality, that I would not trade for anything in this world. I too, felt the joy for everything that went right for both of us in some way, because our path crossed at one time for one good reason, the love for all natures.

Love Heals.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


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Tiger Temple 1

Volunteer stroking the tiger
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Tiger Temple 2

Bottle feeding
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Tiger Temple 5

The cub lazily playing and roling himself on the ground
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Tiger Temple 8

The Tiger Valley
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Tiger Temple 12

The Abbot laid the Grandpa's head on my lap
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Tiger Temple 13

The Abbot and I posing with Grandpa

9th July 2012

Tiger Temple
I agree--the Tiger Temple was one of the highlights of my trip--I go to Thailand about every 3 years and finally got to do this one--well worth it--people saw my photo with the Tigers and thought I was nuts--ha ha

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