Tag Archives: Chiang Mai

17 Random Facts About Tigers

It’s been a looong while since I posted something  but since I now have all the time in the world (sheepish grin), I’m catching up on the backlogs starting with my visit to Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai last March.


I’ve compiled 17 interesting facts about this regal kitty together with the pictures of the time I spent with them:Image

  1. The name ‘tiger’ is taken from the Greek word tigris, a derivative of the Persian word for arrow, referring to the animals great speed
  2. Tigers are solitary hunters and rarely form groups. When they do the proper name is a ‘streak‘ or an ‘ambush’ of tigers
  3. The markings on a tiger’s forehead closely resemble the Chinese character for king, giving tigers a cultural status as a regal animal.
  4. The stripes on each tiger are unique, like human fingerprints. They will also still be visible on their skin even when tigers are shaved of their fur.
  5. When several tigers are present at a kill, the males will often wait for females and cubs to eat first, unlike lions, which do the opposite. Tigers rarely argue or fight over a kill and simply wait turns.
  6. Tigers cannot purr. To show happiness, tigers squint or close their eyes. This is because losing vision lowers defense, so tigers (and many other cats) only purposefully do so when they feel comfortable and safe.

    Looks like this tigger is pretty pleased...

    Looks like this tigger is pretty pleased…

  7. Tigers can sprint at over 60km/h for short distances.
  8. Of all the big cats, only the jaguars and the tigers are great swimmers. Tigers can swim up to 4 miles.
  9. White tigers have blue eyes. But all tigers have round pupils unlike those of a house cat’s which are slitted.
  10. Although they favor killing using their 10cm teeth, tigers will sometimes use their paws. One swipe from a tiger’s front paw is strong enough to smash a bear’s skull or break its back.
  11. Tigers have antiseptic saliva. They lick their wounds to disinfect them.

    I guess this is how they show affection towards their fellow big cats

    I guess this is how they show affection towards their fellow big cats

  12. Despite not being strongly adapted to the dark, tigers’ night vision is about six times better than humans’.
  13. Tigers scratch trees and use their urine to mark their territories. Their urine smells strongly of buttered popcorn.
  14. Tigers have color vision like humans.
  15. Tigers can mate with lions and other cats in captivity to produce hybrids. Through genetics, male lions normally try to make their offspring as large as possible, but are counteracted by female lions, who make offspring smaller. Tigers have no such controls, so a male lion and a female tiger produce enormous offspring, ligers, whereas a female lion and a male tiger produce the much smaller tiglon.

    The lone lion in Tiger Kingdom

    The lone lion in Tiger Kingdom

  16. Three of the nine subspecies of the modern tiger are now extinct. The remaining 6 are all endangered.
  17. There are approximately only 3,500 tigers left in the wild. Although the numbers are greater for tigers in captivity.

It was a beautiful experience to have gotten up close and personal with these mighty felines. For more information on Tiger Kingdom, you can visit their website: http://www.tigerkingdom.com/Home.htm


Thanks to fotor.com and pixlr.com

Close Encounters in Chiang Mai

March 19, 2013

Chiang Mai was like a breath of fresh air from the pulsating and almost-dizzying energy of Bangkok. I felt as though the people were more gentle and there seemed to be more minutes in an hour. I flew into Chiang Mai at about 10 pm and was very pleased to find that the airport was just about a 20 minute drive to the city and to Amora Tha Pae, my hotel. I was glad to have included Chiang Mai in my Thailand trip. Before retiring for the night, I just had to squeeze in a visit to the Night market to get a little more feel of the Northern Thailand city but I didn’t stay out too late. The next day was to be a full day and I was going to need to rest.

An early morning stroll by the city's moat.

An early morning stroll by the city’s moat.

Morning came and I just had to take an early morning stroll out by the moat and get breakfast at one of the diners close to the hotel. On my list of things to do for the were the following: 1. Maesa Elephant Camp 2. A visit to the tribes village 3. Tiger Kingdom It was a stroke of luck that the hotel had an in-house tour company, Siam-Lanna Travel. It was even more good fortune, that my guide for the day, was no less than the very  accommodating proprietor of the company himself (which he only revealed to me later in the day), Mr. Nong.

Maesa Elephant Camp
The elephant show started with a parade of these gentle giants

The elephant show started with a parade of these gentle giants

Starting with a pleasant drive to the Elephant Camp, I thoroughly enjoyed the activities lined up for me. Especially the Elephant Show where you’d get blown away as you witness the elephants painting pictures beautifully. More than the show however, I enjoyed the awesome 45-minute elephant ride which took me to the hill-tribes village.

The elephants painted these themselves. It was truly a unique experience to have witnessed their talent and intelligence in action

The elephants painted these themselves. It was truly a unique experience to have witnessed their talent and intelligence in action.

After the show, I got ready to meet my ride for the day, Mae Hamphong. She’s already 32 years old and has given birth to 5 babies. At first the ride was a bit bumpy, but once I got the hang of it, the Mahout (the elephant driver) and I casually made conversation in friendly, broken English.

The Hill-tribe Village
About to start the 45 minute journey up the mountains of Maerim to see the hill-tribes.

About to start the 45 minute journey up the mountains of Maerim to see the hill-tribes.

Mae Hamphong dropped me off at the entrance of the village where Mr. Nong was waiting for me. We walked into the village and met with the different indigenous tribes. Some have been relocated here from Myanmar (Burma) and have been given this area to settle in.  It was fascinating how each tribe had their own elaborate and distinctive costumes especially the Akha and the Padaung (the Long-Neck tribe).

An Akha selling hand-crafted souvenirs.

An Akha woman selling hand-crafted souvenirs.

The origins of the metal coil around the Padaung tribes' necks are more for protection than for aesthetics. When tigers attack, they usually go for the neck area, so to protect pregnant women and children who could not climb trees as fast as the rest, they wore these metal coils to protect themselves.

The origins of the metal coil around the Padaung or Long-Neck tribes’ necks are more for protection than for aesthetics. When tigers attack, they usually go for the neck area, so to protect pregnant women and children who could not climb trees as fast as the rest, they wore these metal coils to protect themselves and over time, the prolonged wearing of these coils caused them to have long necks, hence the English name of the tribe.

It took about an hour to go around the village and interact with the tribes. As per Mr. Nong, instead of giving the kids or the tribes-people money, it was more encouraged to purchase their wares instead. Giving the kids some candies would have been a great idea too but we didn’t bring any with us at the time. One more interesting thing I noted was that on top of the hill in the village, there was a Catholic Church made–apparently, these tribes-people have already been converted and baptized as Christians. Indeed, everywhere in Thailand, the mix of culture and religion is commonplace.

Mae Sa Butterfly and Orchid Farm/Restaurant
Beautiful orchids to behold while waiting for lunch.

Beautiful orchids to behold while waiting for lunch.

Famished after the activities of the first half of the day, Mr. Nong took me to the Orchid Farm, were a sumptuous lunch buffet was being served. The break from the heat was wonderful and gave me time to re-energize before I hit my next stop for the day, which will be in my next post, Tiger Kingdom.

An EXTREMELY Spicy Papaya Salad from tthe Orchid farm Restaurant.

Mr. Nong had me try an EXTREMELY Spicy Papaya Salad from the Orchid Farm Restaurant. I don’t know how many glasses of water I finished after. I could swear I could feel steam coming out of my ears.

In retrospect, the day was hot and tiring but it was energy well-spent. I cannot wait to come back to Chiang Mai with my family! Chiang Mai just has so much to offer.

If you’d like to know more about Siam Lanna Travel, you can call +66 88 400 6428 or like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Siam-Lanna-Travel/515915851787620?fref=ts

The Red Car Driver

March 19, 2013

Chiang Mai, Thailand

A view of the golden chedi at Wat Doi Suthep at night

A view of the golden chedi at Wat Doi Suthep at night

uped. Deceived.
I was screaming all sorts of curses in my head while my calf muscles throbbed from the 309-step descent (and prior ascent) from Wat Doi Suthep. I was sweating profusely even with the cool, mountain breeze, stifling the panic that was rising from the bottom of my gut. I nervously noted the souvenir stalls closing up for the day. Night had fallen.

Save for a Thai lady who I came down the steps with, there were no longer any tourists around and no other vehicles for hire. I saw only one other red car but I wasn’t sure it was the same one. I should’ve remembered to note the plates. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted that man. I shouldn’t have paid him 200 Thai Baht in advance. I felt like such a rookie. He said his name was Matthew. Maybe that was made-up too.

The Red Car Driver, Matthew--A Chiang Mai Local

The Red Car Driver, Matthew–A Chiang Mai Local

Then the slow, bladder sphincter-loosening realization crept in: the red car I had hired to take me here and back to the city had abandoned me.

I mentally skimmed through my options:

a. Walk the entire 15 km-descent back to Chiang Mai. In the dark. NO.
b. Talk to one of the locals who seem to own a scooter and propose a deal. Do they speak English?
c. Go to the police station and ask for assistance. Are they still open?

A view of Chiang Mai from Doi Suthep Mountain

A view of Chiang Mai from Doi Suthep Mountain

I had to clear my head. Before I left for this trip, I had read about the unfortunate plight of a tourist in India. I gave myself a mental smack. I should not have traveled to this country solo. I sat down on the curb and struggled to get the stress hormones down to not-so-toxic levels.

How was I going to get myself home?

I got up and checked the only red car parked by the road. I prayed to the gods that the driver was just taking a nap inside. I couldn’t have taken that long up in the temple! Yes, I was entranced by the monk’s chants and the solitude of the temple over sundown but I couldn’t have been more than an hour!

I peered through the car window. It was empty.

I paced back and forth ranting silently. Then, unceremoniously, there he was, coming down the steps from one of the buildings. In seconds, all the fear dissipated and I resisted the urge to grab this petite man/boy and hug him. I thanked him repeatedly and I was so overjoyed I told him I’d take him to dinner wherever he liked. Of course, I said this with more gestures and in broken English so he could understand. Smiling an unassuming smile, obviously clueless about what I had been through for the past fifteen minutes, Matthew opened the car door for me and asked if I was “happy”.

I told him yes.

Getting to the market, Matthew invited me to make an offering to Buddha at the shrine. He then taught me wai phra and he smiled taciturnly as I lit the incense and silently thanked Buddha.

Lotus blloms for Buddha

Lotus blooms for Buddha

Earlier I had told Matthew he could go anywhere he wanted for dinner and it was on me. That was mostly relief, talking. As we sped away, I berated myself. Again.

We slowed to turn towards a dark alley. My heart jumped to my throat and the tourist in India flashed through my mind one more time. But as we rolled in to a dimly lit parking area right next to a swanky sports car, my fear turned into suspicion. I was getting royally ripped off tonight. The restaurant looked exclusive.

The facade of Huay Kaeaw Restaurant looked rustic and inviting

The facade of Huay Keaew Restaurant looked rustic and inviting

We walked through the restaurant hall while Matthew kept saying this place had “the champion kangsom in all of Chiang Mai”. In my head I thought sourly, “It better be the best, if I’m going to splurge on it tonight”.

The restaurant overlooked   the Huay Keaew waterfall

The restaurant overlooked the Huay Kaew waterfall

Nothing could prepare me for what awaited us though. As we entered the receiving area, I couldn’t help bust gasp at the most beautiful sight that night: we were to dine right next to the Huay Kaew waterfall! Matthew was right about the kangsom too and no, I didn’t spend a fortune.

Buddha must have been smiling down on me that night. And Matthew, well, since that night, he officially became a friend.

It’s a great thing to take precautions for safety but let’s not forget that there are still good people among us. I’m glad to have befriended one along the way.