Why you should AVOID the Tiger Temple

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Imagine going to Thailand and being able to not just see tigers, but pet them and take photos with them? I am sure many of you would love to experience this, which is why the Tiger Temple in Bangkok is one of Thailand’s most popular places to visit.

Unfortunately, the temple is not all what it seems, as the so called sanctuary is known as being exceptionally cruel to these beautiful creatures.

On my trip to Thailand a few years ago I was unbelievably excited to have the chance to visit the temple and have the opportunity to actually sit with tigers. I thought it would be a fun experience and certainly something I would never be able to do in New York!

Once I arrived, I walked over to the area where they take pictures of you with the tigers. It was basically a tiger line up. The area had about 10-14 different sized tigers grouped together and chained to the floor. You then go around and take photo after photo with each tiger.

The first tiger I sat next to, appeared to smile for the photo and then I noticed he was chained to the floor. And why wasn’t he moving? Is he even breathing? Maybe he is sleepy from laying around in the heat? Hmm, off to the next tiger, same story with this one. Then I moved onto another one, who was completely comatosed. They picked his head up and placed it in my lap. I felt like I was holding a deceased tiger. He was limp as a noodle and just fell into my lap. After that, I realized that something was wrong and I didn’t want to be apart of it. I left the photo area and pulled my tour guide aside to ask him what the real story was behind the place and what I found out was appalling.

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The tigers are indeed drugged, malnourished and treated poorly. They are left outside in the sun all day without shade while countless tourists take photos with them, so that the people who run the temple can make a profit. When they are not laying outside for photo-ops, they are confined in a small cage. This is supposed to be a wildlife sanctuary!

The profits are also supposed to go to help save the animals, but it turns out that this is also a lie. It is simply a profit making exercise and to make money for other projects such as opening a Tiger Island to expand the business.

Once I got home, I did some research and found out that there is a lot of controversy surrounding them for these issues, along with others such as illegal trade and breeding.

As I was waiting around for my tour group, they started to do an exercise program with the tigers. The workers let the tigers out into an area where visitors can watch them “exercise”. Their version of exercising is by taunting the tigers by hitting them with a prop such as a ball tied to the end of a long stick to get them to jump around. At times they were just poking them with sticks to move around and as if it could’t get any worse, you could pay an extra fee, so that you could be apart of it by also taunting them with sticks.

So this is where I start to beg, please DO NOT visit this tiger dungeon!! I feel sick to my stomach that I gave my money to this place and took photos, until I realized the horror that what was occurring before me. I wasn’t the only person on my tour that was upset by this experience. Many people complained, so the guide told us about an alternative option, Tiger Kingdom. This establishment treats them properly and the profits actually go to helping tigers. I was skeptical but after visiting, I immediately noticed healthy, awake, tigers roaming around. Don’t believe me? Click the HERE to read about my experience.

My ideal #TasteofTravel menu

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Picture your favorite starter, main dish and dessert from anywhere in the world, but all in one menu. That is what I have put together for my #TasteofTravel menu for the Celebrity Cruises blogger competition! They have just won the 2014 Ocean Cruise Line of the Year in the Food and Travel Awards and they have now teamed up with Great British Chefs to help make their food offerings even better! Now they want to hear from travel bloggers to find out what their dream menu would be, from food that they have sampled on their travels. It was quite a hard task to pick only one of each, as I have been lucky enough to try countless amazing dishes from all over the world. After much soul searching I have managed to narrow it down to my most memorable dish for each course.

Starter

I have always wanted to go to Greece, but unfortunately I haven’t made it there yet. After hearing numerous reviews I decided to try a small Greek restaurant in New York called Taverna Kyclades. The ambiance and friendliness of the staff was exactly how I imagined it would be on a Greek Island! The three courses I had were all tasty, but in particular the Kyclades Veggie Chips were just too good not to make the list. It is crispy eggplant and zucchini slices fried tempura style with a creamy tzatziki dip. Not only was it incredibly delicious, but it was unique from anything I have ever had before. The batter was so light and crispy and cooked to absolute perfection, so that it did not taste too greasy. Then to add to the dish, you are given a zesty tzatziki dip. It was so good without the dip, that I didn’t think I needed it, but once I tried it.. woah! It definitely added to the taste making it one of the most memorable dishes I have ever had. Their original location is in Astoria – Queens, which is known as an being an absolute hotbed of Greek culture, so it is not surprising that there is such a gem of a Greek restaurant there.

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Crispy eggplant and zucchini with tzatziki dip

Main

I’ve tried Pad Thai a few times in different places and finally gave up on it as I realized I really did not enjoy it that much. That was until I visited Thailand. I decided to give it another try since I was in the country it originated from and I was given a recommendation from a local, to try a specific street cart that was recognized as making the best Pad Thai in the area. I am so happy I gave it another chance! What I do not like about this dish normally, is the overwhelming taste of peanut but this version did not have it. It actually had a complex taste that differed from any other time I had tried it before. It had a perfect balance of spices, that I could not possibly name, but it certainly did the trick! It easily makes my list and I can honestly say that I haven’t been able to find another Pad Thai that even comes close to it since my adventures in Thailand. It is however a great excuse to go back for another visit!

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Pad Thai

Dessert

When I am travelling, I am always on the hunt for treats, so when I was strolling through the streets of Amsterdam and got caught in the intoxicating aroma of a local waffle shop, I just had to go in. Once inside the waffle shop it was hard to choose from what seemed like an endless amount of options, but after much drooling I finally settled upon a warm waffle with Nutella and cherries. It definitely wasn’t one of the neatest dishes I had ever had to eat, but I hardly cared that I had enough chocolate on my face to make me look like one of the naughty children from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! This was really an easy choice for my dessert selection, as I still vividly remember scrumptious tasting delight that crossed my lips. Yum!

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Nutella and cherries on a warm belgian waffle

I hope you enjoyed my #TasteofTravel menu! Now I nominate We3Travel, Vagrants of the WorldDifferent Doors and JS Living the Dream to make their own three course menu. Entries will be accepted until January 12th and those entries will be judged by two top Great British Chefs and Deputy Editor of Food and Travel Magazine, Mark Sansom. If you win you’ll be awarded a seven-night European cruise and one £150 voucher to use at one of the Great British Chef’s restaurants. Runners up will receive £75 meal vouchers. May you have as much fun as I did, reliving your delicious meals, as I did mine.

Leaping into the Khwae Noi River to be carried by the water current!

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Imagine jumping off a bamboo raft into a strong water current which pulls you all the way down a river and the only way to get out is by trying to latch onto a dock at the end! That is exactly what I did at Saiyoke Yai Waterfall and National Park, when I went on a huge bamboo raft which floated along the Khwae Noi river flowing through Thailand. The raft itself was being towed by a tiny boat which had a long rope attached. I couldn’t believe it! We definitely made some turns that I thought were going to send us on a collision course into the trees!

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This tiny boat was pulling…

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This HUGE raft!!

The day started off easy going, as we floated along the river taking in the breathtaking scenery on our approach to the Sai Yok waterfall. There were other small waterfalls along the way which just added to the beautiful river which is surrounded by mountains and forests. From the looks of it, you would think we were in the middle of the jungle, but it is actually a forest! 

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Eventually, everyone decided it would be fun to jump off the boat and let the strong current bring them to the other end of the river! I had three main concerns 1. the water was extremely deep. I had a life vest on, but it was still scary! Plus of course I got stuck with a child size one at first until I found the last adult size! Ha.. Only me. 2. who knew what was swimming around in the water! 3. What if I don’t grab onto the dock at the end of the river in time? Do they happen to have a speedboat to come and chase me? Despite my concerns I figured, how often am I going to get an opportunity to experience something like this? So off I jumped!!

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My child sized life jacket!

The current was strong so it carried me along the river without much effort on my end. I have to say, that despite my initial concerns it was incredibly fun! It was strong enough to carry me but not too strong that I was worried about drowning. The highlight for me was when I floated under the the Sai Yok waterfall, which is the most popular attraction of the Sai Yok Nationa Park. Then I floated straight to the dock. It was a little tricky trying to grab onto the dock and pull myself up, because the current was pushing me pretty hard, but I managed it in the end!

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My Jungle Adventure in Thailand

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On my trip I spent a day exploring the hills of Thailand. It really was a once in a lifetime experience to be in the middle of such awe inspiring landscape. First off on my journey I travelled down the river on a bamboo raft and attempted to paddle us there, but truthfully it was not an easy task! Once on land we were introduced to some extremely friendly elephants, one of which kept giving me what can only be described as trunk hugs, which was slightly weird, but also exceedingly cool. I then watched them have a quick bath, before hopping on top of one of the elephants to trek through the jungle, through rivers and then on up into the hills. It truly was an amazing experience!

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