Tourist, Tigers, and Tusks…but not Tuscany (yet)

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Sadih

So far, this has been my week of being a bona fide tourist.  But that’s allowed, since I actually am one here in Thailand.  The strongest feeling of being a tourist came yesterday in the night bazaar.  My friend who is studying abroad in Thailand met up with me in the night bazaar.  Since I’m leaving in three days, I had no shame about doing the whole tourist, shopping, bartering thing, but at the same time, I feel like there’s a definite value in really immersing yourself in a new culture in the way that her study abroad program does.  Hopefully, my study abroad semester in Italy will result in more of an at-home feel than leaving me feeling like a perpetual tourist.  Sometimes as a tourist I feel like I’m being constantly ripped off.

In other news, today I was able to visit the Elephant Camp and Tiger Kingdom, all in the same day.  Normally I don’t aim to record solely sightseeing excursions on this blog, but today was pretty fantastic, and I think my initial thoughts on being a tourist have justified this tangent.  We started off with the Elephant Camp.  Getting up bright and early for an 8:30 departure, we made it to the Elephant Camp at around 9:10.  After buying tickets, we were rushed onto our elephant ride.  Even though I’d ridden an elephant before, it’s always fun to do again.  They’re magnificent creatures, although slightly bizarre, and in some ways reminded me of a big, smart dog.  It was be awesome to be riding one while it was running.  I also rubbed the trunk of one of them, which was the most bizarre feeling ever.

The ride was followed by an elephant show.  Elephants really are intelligent creatures, and like I said, reminded me of a large, oversized dog.  Their capabilities are astounding.  I mean, they’ve been trained to do it, but still.  They were able to play soccer, throw darts, paint pictures, do a relay race, and show a sense of humor.   We also got to see a baby elephant, about 2 months old:

After the Elephant Camp we made a quick stop at the Tiger Kingdom.  Fantastic.  Not really sure that it’s your money’s worth, but seriously, where else are you going to be able to touch and take picture with a tiger that’s not stuffed?  We had the option to choose between the baby tigers, small tigers (which were about the size of a small golden retriever), medium tigers (think little larger than a German Shepherd), or a large one.  We opted for the medium tigers.  Even though we couldn’t really play with the tigers, we still got to pet them and scratch their stomachs.  They’re basically overgrown cats, but much more intimidating.  I would not want to meet one in a dark alley.

And so ends the tangential nature of my post.  Back to Taiwan on Tuesday, los estados unidos in tres semanas.

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