About four years ago I woke one morning in Pattaya next to Wonderful Wi. It was not long before she hit me with “What you want do today ?”(her English is much better these days), “up to you” I replied. I had been in Thailand about two months and hit the bars every lunchtime and night so I guessed she‘d comeback with a favorite watering hole to visit.
“We can go to the crocodile farm” she said, my first thought was, never heard of that bar, my second she is serious. I decided to show interest and immediately booted up the small memory bank situated between my ears. Searching and scanning banks full of wildlife documentaries I came up with three god hold me back lets go now questions. Do they sell beer there ?. Can I smoke ? . Can we get a taxi back because I will be drunk ?. Affirmative was the answer to all three, at that moment I realized my hobby Alcoholism would have to take a back seat for the day.
A few hours later we entered the crocodile farm, Wi with that wonderful smile that most Thai’s possess, me with fears of being eaten alive by a crocodile and afterwards it spits out my fake gold Pattaya watch. I just hoped it would choke on it.
© Abdullah Sm | Dreamstime.com
It took no time at all to purchase my first can of beer and my mood started to pick up. We looked round the gardens, all flowers and trees, Wi took many pictures and I can only remember thinking it smells of flowers and trees around here. A few days later I was forced to view the photos and wondered why I only had the one arm (possible with crocodiles about), then remembered Wi had wanted me to hide the beer can for the photos.
We walked on and saw elephants, bison, tigers, camels, deer, ostriches and emus, I started to enjoy it. We then swung around a corner and were confronted with a large raised concrete plinth (platform) with a giant stuffed tiger on it. There was a photographer and you could have your picture took with it. No thanks, overstuffed or what, looked a bigger fake than my watch.
About 20 metres on there were various small pens and cages with all sorts of animals in and there was a somewhat smallish bear out in the open with an attendant, Wi decided we needed to get a closer look at the bear.
About half of a dozen people formed a semi circle around it, I kept to the back. The bear looked a bit strange to me, brown, smallish and with a sort of elongated nose, a right scruffy bugger. Half of a dozen people with half of a million opinions, “Isn’t he lovely, I wish I could take him home, he reminds me of Jane’s teddy bear,” reminded me of a giant can of hofmeister.
Anyway the bear started to get what I would call agitated, lots of feet stomping, increasing arm movements, head shaking and occasional glimpses of sharp teeth. Looked similar to your drunken grandfather dancing at your sisters wedding. Sod this I’m off, with my luck in life I know who the scruffy buggers going to bite, Wi seemed happy, I would leave her to it. I decided that me and my remaining eight millilitres of beer would retreat to the concrete plinth and anyway the photographer was not about so I would not get pestered for a photo.
I sat down next to the stuffed tiger, its head next to mine, then the only slice of luck I’ve ever had in life happened at that very moment. As I was draining the last drops of my beer, out of the corner of my eye I saw this giant tigers head slowly turning towards me.
I leaped to my feet and broke the Thailand men’s 100 metres sprint record. I could not bloody believe it, what was a live tiger doing out in the open. It turned out that the tiger was supposedly doped to the eyeballs and would probably just about have the strength to bite you if you sat next to it. Anyone photographed with it was positioned well back from its head. Returning a few minutes later, shaken and stirred I relayed the incident to Wi who pointed out the great big chain round its neck and the post it was attached to. Must admit, I had not noticed it myself.
Afterwards we saw a monkey show and hundreds of crocodiles then got a taxi (sober) back to our hotel. I would recommend a visit to the crocodile farm but sadly the original tiger has now passed away and has been replaced with a smaller one. Please remember this advice, smaller things normally move a lot quicker.