Damion's Southeast Asia Adventure
Thailand part 2 – Tigers & Tailors
28Feb 2013
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For the final last 3 days in Thailand one of my best friends and the co-author of “Reinvented Life,” Christofer Ashby,joined me in Bangkok for a mini adventure before we linked up with our Lifebook group in Yangon, Myanmar.  We started off a few hours after Chris’ arrival by doing none other than clothes shopping!  Thailand has permanently screwed up my sense of clothes pricing in the United States.  In fact, other then my weakness for Lululemon gear, I’m gonna have a hell of a time buying clothes in the states now that I’ve experienced buying nice shirts for 2-10 bucks and pants for 5-15 dollars. Beautiful women’s dresses, $10-20.  Without the unique reference obtained by traveling and venturing out to the raw street markets, (past the tourist traps and malls), you’d never know how much you’re being ripped off every time you load up at Neiman or Saks for a new wardrobe.

Bangkok is literally bursting with tailors in every direction not to mention the thousands of hungry clothing vendors.  They may have more tailors than Tuk-Tuk drivers and that’s saying something because the Tuk-Tuk contingency are EVERYWHERE!  At first it’s impossible to know where to go so we asked a sharp-looking local for a recommendation and he sent us to see Santos, about 15 minutes from our hotel.

A 5 minute walk, followed by a quick 10 minute train ride on the BTS to our man’s shop, we arrived to our hand-picked designer of custom-ware.  We carefully selected the smoothest and sexiest materials, picked the styles we like from what seemed like endless stacks of Italian designs and had the rest of the team take notes and measurements, getting every possible dimension of our bodies precisely arranged on the clothing CAD system.  By the way, designing clothes and standing at attention while being measured is simply exhausting!  Within an hour we were done and assumed it would take a couple weeks to see their work.  Nope.  When we asked Santos about the ETA on completion, his answer: Tomorrow.  Our jaws dropped.  Really?  Wow, Thai efficiency!  We arranged our fitting for the next day and excitedly made our way out to eat at an off the beaten path gourmet Thai joint, a  place called Kinnaree.  We were starved, I mean hey, clothes configuring straight up wears you out!

Kinnaree is the type of place frequented by locals but few tourists, because it’s buried WAY back behind a forest of trees after you head a couple hundred yards down a dark alley off the main road.  It’s not a place you’d accidentally bump into, even if you happened to walk by the entrance because it’s so non-descript.  This also happens to be the best type of place in many cases!  It was so good I ate there twice in 5 days. Some of the most delicious food ever!  I also had a drink with the longest straw I’ve ever seen.  It was literally 3 feet long.

The next day we got up early and had a car pick us up to venture out to the floating markets and Tiger Temple (As Seen on Animal Planet).  Our private long boat had us feeling like mid-level royalty on a mission, zipping through the narrow canals James Bond style.  The floating markets are literally vendors either floating in the canals with goods to sell or you’ll see others with shop son the banks where you can float up and buy stuff without even leaving your dingy (assuming you don’t fall in the canal).  Endless options  to shop for food, clothes, trinkets and even a couple giant pythons to hang out with if you get bored or worn out from the relentless vendors pitching you on their “very good deal routine.”

After our boating adventure we drove another hour to one of coolest places I’ve ever been, no doubt a highlight of my entire 6 week Asia trip – the Tiger Temple.  The temple is a kind of sanctuary for abandoned and orphaned animals.  We saw prancing pigs, who LOVED to roll in the mud, squealing in piggy delight the whole time – great video of this by the way.  We met a fearless deer, happy to come up and chomp goodies right out of our hands and we saw the fattest black bear on earth who showcased his mega fat-ass by climbing down a ladder backwards, off his perch loft, without falling no less!  And then, the finale, the Bengal Tiger cats and cubs.

Without any type of warning while touring the temple we literally bumped into Simba, an 800 pound Bengal Tiger in the middle of the pathway on a walk with one of the orange clothed monks.  Our guide pointed at me and said, “you, go take leash and walk him.”  WTF!!!?!?!? That’s so awesome!  No time to think, I grabbed the leash with my left hand and started scratching his back, his HUMUNGOUS back, with my right.  I was on my way with my new pal Simba, going for a stroll through the Temple park.  Chris and I took turns walking him down to an area where the rest of the cats were laying around, presumably waiting for another feeding.  Pretty sure I stopped breathing for a moment when the director pointed at me and said, “give me camera, you go with cats.”  Again, what choice did I have.  I walked up, handed my camera to him and without warning some random tiny Thai girl grab my arm and lead me to the first mega-cat.  Fifteen minutes and a dozen cats later I had some of the most cherished images of my life, literally lounging with Bengal Tigers, man and beast without zoo walls or cage bars.  This was no joke, talk about edgy and wild!

The finale and a truly killer experience was hanging out with the little guy, a 4 month old tiger cub.  The coolest part was his personality.  He literally acted like a Super-Sized version of my old tabby house cat.  This stout Bengal cub with size 18 paws just wanted his head rubbed and his butt scratched.  As I scratched his thick head, his ears moving back and forth with my scratching, I swear I saw him smiling and heard him purr.  Little tear in my eye, he’d brought me to my knees, literally.  I was mush and was in love!  Had to talk myself down from the ledge of contemplation, scheming how I could get him back to Bangkok and then to America without anyone noticing.

If you ever find yourself anywhere near Bangkok or Thailand for that matter, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. Seriously, go visit the Tiger Temple!  It’s so worth the 3 hour trek to get there and you’ll never forget it.  Every one of the animals are awesome and the tigers are breath taking!

Next stop, the Kingdom of Myanmar and the final 9 days of the adventure before heading back to America.

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