Snakes, Tigers, and Crocs, OH MY!!!
• Galaxy Hotel Shanghai
• Highsure All Suite Hotel
• Highton International Hotel
• Le Meridien She Shan Shanghai
Maybe I caught the bug, I don't' know. But I really enjoyed writing my first submission to Stickman last week ("Only in Thailand") about my friend getting bonked while our wives were window shopping a block away, that I'd thought
I'd try writing another story about my travels to the Land of Smiles.
As I mentioned before, I have been traveling to Thailand now every year for about 10 years for my summer holiday. Before I went the very first time, I studied a little Thai for about 6 months. While having lunch in a Thai restaurant in Chinatown, I asked one of the waitresses if she would teach me Thai. She was a student at a large and prestigious university in my west coast USA city and after hearing of my offer to pay her $40 per hour for the lessons, she readily accepted. We became good friends, but it never went farther because she had a Thai fiance' and I was just not interested. My girlfriends were usually a cross between "Carmen", "Madame Butterfly", and if there were an opera about a female Evil Knievel, well…you get the picture. My teacher was a little shy, a little demure, and a little boring. But nevertheless, she was very nice, and as my first trip to Bangkok was approaching, she contacted her father and mother and told them to roll out the red carpet for me.
Her father owned a large raw silk factory, and I did enjoy taking a tour through his company. Both father, mother, and two younger sisters became my guides for a week in Bangkok, and I did truly enjoyed my first time in this great city.
One day, the family took me to the famous Crocodile Farm about an hour and 1/2 drive outside of Bangkok. The farm held about 50 or 60 thousand crocodiles, hundreds of species, including the rare white albino crocodile, alligators, and other related reptiles. And as we walked through the place on our way to the amphitheater where the Crocodile Show took place, there were many interesting exhibits and photo opportunities to have your picture taken with rare animals. I did see a man holding a big fat, 10 foot long boa constrictor around his neck. And for a couple hundred baht, he would drape this serpent around your neck and try to snap a photo before you became an honorary member of the long neck hill tribe village. This didn't seem like a good option, but further down the road, I saw something that did interest me.
You could have your picture taken next to a BENGAL TIGER! Wow, that would be a great treasure to display in my house. Stanley, Livingston, and me—Explorer and Big Game Hunter!! The chicks would be all over me. And, just to be sure I wouldn't disappoint them from this virile impression I'd be portraying, I'd only have to double my Viagra dose.
So there I am waiting in line to have my photo taken next to this enormous animal. Crouching on two legs the animal was almost taller than I was, and I'm 6'2''. And with broad shoulders and a gigantic chest, I didn't think that there would be any room left for me in the picture.
In front of me, waiting in line, was this petite Japanese man. And when it was his turn, the photographer told him to go up on the small stage and stand next to the tiger. As I scanned the stage, I noticed that the tiger had a very thick chain around it's neck, and there was a Thai handler holding on to this chain. Soon after that, the photographer told the Japanese man to put his arm around the tiger's back, and smile.
Well, what happened next was something that I'll never forget. As the Japanese man put his arm around the tiger's back, this 500 lb. Mass of sheer muscle turned its head towards the little man, open his mouth about 2 feet wide, and growled like a fog horn on a tug boat. I never knew what hit the little Japanese man, as he leaped in the air at least 10 feet, from a standing position, and as far as I know, he's still orbiting the earth. Everyone there started to laugh, and when this man finally re-entered the atmosphere he looked as white as an Amish ghost.
Unfortunately, it was now my turn to have my photo taken next to Cujo. I hopped up on the stage, went gingerly to my place, and waited for my orders from the sadistic photographer. Sure enough he says "Go ahead, and put your arm around the tiger". Well, I'm no quantum physicist, but I have lived to be 45 years old, and I suppose I didn't get this far without some instinct for survival. I always look both ways before crossing the street, and so far I've had the good sense not to get eaten by a Bengal tiger. The thought went through my head not to push my luck. So, as I was stalling to jump off the stage and run for my life, I noticed that the man holding the thick chain around the tiger's neck, was no longer there. He was gone, and the chain was lying on the floor, having decided itself to commit suicide. The photographer again asked me to get closer, and at that moment, feeling like a paraplegic cliff diver in Acapulco, I placed my hand about 4 feet behind the tiger's back and wondered if courage and stupidity had the same mother. As it turned out, they were second cousins, and it didn't hurt that the tiger was farsighted, and needed contact lenses. The bulb went off, I left the stage like Rambo in the mud, and lived to tell about it.
Now I have a beautiful picture of myself next to a man eating machine. One of us was smiling, the other flossing. And the one date who came to my house and saw this photo displaying my gladiator -like virility asked me if the frame came in darker wood.
Only in Thailand
Just got home from work and it is well after 9 PM…so please forgive the lack of comments today.