Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls the energy force that produces body heat Qi. TCM believes body warmth is real important for when it is gone you are cold dead. It was 90 something degrees when we arrived in Bangkok. The heat gave us a shot of vigor and our Qi a rest, we were ready to go. We arrived in Thailand on the New Year Holiday week and many Europeans and Australians were here for the holiday. We visited the Floating Market in Damnernsadiak. It is a town of canals and not many roads. A lot of everyday commerce occurs in the canals. We took a ride in a longboat then in a paddle boat around the canals. It was congested. A couple with us from LA in the paddle boat jokingly said he has not seen this much gridlock since being on the LA freeway. We walked around the canals a bit and watched the food preparation on some of the floating restaurants and got hungry for a Cobra show. Our guide found one. Apparently there are
cobras and numerous poisonous snakes in Thailand, enough so that one can make a living as a snake charmer. The cobra show consisted of charmers out-maneuvering cobra strikes on a 10 by 10 floor surrounded by a small moat of water that was surround by seating for about 200 people. It was a full house, I was in the front row, Ann in the last. The head charmer then did a cobra milking to prove that the snakes have venom and are not milked before the show. They then displayed the cobras sex organs, they have both male and female organs, which gave the announcer an opportunity from some Thailand comic relief. The last performance by the head charmer was the parading the cobra around the audience for the touching of good luck. Only one person (Ann) was not looking for good luck. Next several snakes were released from bags and they would try to escape only to be whirled back onto the floor by their tails to strike at their charmers. You just could not push far enough back into your chair during that act. The show stopper was when a young man released a bag of 3 poisonous snakes and attempted to capture them all before they squirmed away into the crowd. Somehow he secured 2 of the snakes around his 2 arms so they could no longer strike at him and he went after the third by trying to secure it behind its neck in his mouth. After several exchanges of quick strikes the charmer won and pranced around the floor with a snake dangling from his mouth and two from his arms. Bravo. It was time to quit worrying about snake safety and move on to tiger attack worries. We headed to the Tiger Temple at Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua. The temple was a
monastery for some monks who had a synergistic and friendly relationship with some tigers and today is a animal sanctuary, particularly for tigers. We arrived in the afternoon after the morning feeding, so some of the tigers were lounging around chained to poles so visitors could approach the complacent animals. In another section of the grounds a group of visitors were circled around a small pool of water where 5 younger tigers were splashing and playing around with their handlers. The only way the handlers could restrain the animals from jumping out of the pool was by pulling their collars or their tails. As we watched the 5 tigers playfully splashing and pawing at their handlers, it felt perfectly natural that we would be 10 feet away from 5 free tigers jumping around in a waterhole. Was it the Monks presence, the 20 other peoples discernment, or too much time in the sun that removed the element of fear? After the bath the tigers had a belt put through their collars and were led away to trees with the crowd following. The Monks chained each tiger to a tree and the cats did normal cat stuff; rolling around, pawing at the tree, and hunching down and staring at the other animals in the sanctuary like cats do with mice. After some time of this cat play the tigers were ready for their visitors to give them hugs. You can hug a tiger just so long before reality sets in and its time to move on. We drove over to Kanchanaburi to see the bridge, because we did not think the Bridge Over the River Kwai was in Thailand. We found it to be true and also there is a war memorial for the American soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the building of the bridge. That is all that we needed to see because it was time to get back to Bangkok for George’s Thai cuisine.
The next day after a Thai breakfast we got on the Sky Train down to the river to catch a ferry ride to the Grand Palace. Another enormous living estate for that was used for the Thai emperors and now only for special occasions. What made this one different from the Chinese and Japanese palaces was that is one was not as old, it was much more ornate and had more gold coloring. With our little understanding of Thai culture we could have easily mistaken the construction for India. George had to change into appropriate clothing that was provided at the front gate before we could enter. We gawked for most of the day at the different buildings, Buddhas and the mass of Thai people who swarmed the grounds. We hopped back onto the river ferry and unfortunately it was rush hour and the ferry was overly crowded making for jumping off the exit platform to the dock a challenge. It was enough to make anyone hunger for more Thai food. The Thai food is really delicious, which is a little different concoction of rice and vegetable than the Chinese and Japanese. I think its the different vegetables here and different sauces. We were readying for our trip to Kata beach to recharge our Qi.