Continued from… Rendez-vous with Tigers-Part II – Kanchanaburi Tiger Temple
After listening to all the guidelines, we were finally led closer to the area where the tigers were sitting. There were about five tigers there that we could interact with. We could see now, that they were tied to the trees or the ground with either leather leashes or steel chains and they were awake. They were big and healthy, but not nearly big as the ones that we saw later on. The black stripes stood out boldly on their clean orange bodies. After gawking and gaping that them from afar, we decided to go near one.
As soon as we indicated to the volunteer near it that we wanted to go near the tiger, he said, that we could go only one at a time. I elected to go first and handed over my camera to another volunteer who asked for it. Then the first volunteer grasped my hand firmly and we walked in a circle around the tiger and reached behind it keeping a distance of about 3-4 meters from it at all times. Once behind it, we walked near and the volunteer instructed me to sit on the ground and demonstrated how I should firmly pat the tiger. He once again reminded me, that I should not touch anywhere ahead of the shoulder area and then stood up and waited next to me.
Slowly I firmly patted the tiger on his long back with one hand. I could see his stomach heaving up and down with every breath and his coat felt coarse to touch. All the time, I was aware of the feeling that if I somehow managed to disturb the tiger, he could certainly get up, turn around quickly at any time and take a quick bite out of me. I could hardly believe that I was patting an almost full grown tiger and while I was lost in the feeling, the volunteer quickly clicked my pictures.
The tiger himself turned his face slightly to look behind once but after that took no further notice of me. After 2 minutes, the volunteer again came near me, held my hand while I got up and following the same precautions as earlier led me back in front of the tiger.
Then Ujwal has his turn and much to everyone’s alarm, the tiger turned on his back, while he was patting him. The volunteer was right beside him ready to lead him away quickly in case he panicked. But fortunately he just froze for a moment and then after about a minute, calmly patted the tiger.
After going near all the tigers, we walked around the place a bit. There seemed to be other animals at the place too. We came across an Ostrich roaming free inside a barely fenced area. Then suddenly we saw a peacock running about.
Soon after, we came across a small lake, where a turtle seemed to be sunning himself on a rock. We just managed to click him before he plunged into the water. A herd of cattle too seemed to be enjoying themselves lazing in the lake.
Then we came across a tame deer walking about just as freely as we were. We petted the deer and again clicked pictures.
We hadn’t known about all the other animals being at this place and enjoyed exploring the place completely. After a while, we started walking back to the place where the tigers were as we had been asked to assemble there in half an hour.
Coming up next, Tigers, tigers and more tigers … 🙂