Still taming tigers

I don’t think I’ll be posting too many updates this week. Internet time is at a premium (one PC for 8 volunteers), and each day’s fairly routine anyway.

I slept a little better last night, but it’s still soul-destroying when you wake to look at your watch and find it’s not even midnight yet.

We start at 7am, washing out the cubs’ cages and washing them down as well. They get all shampooed and stuff to make sure they’re clean and healthy. One has a tooth infection and gets some pills. Unlike a domestic cat, these beasts will actually eat them if they’re rammed into a chicken!

Then we set off for the temple for breakfast. Before entering the temple, the tigers have to have their feet washed in a “moat”. If you think it’s hard getting your moggy into a travel basket, you should try this… the smallest one is larger than any alsatian I’ve ever seen!

The cubs are tied up to posts around the edges of the temple floor in pairs (there are four of them) so they can stretch their legs and play while the monks bless the food and we all eat. It’s quite a routine, with the abbot and then the other monks each taking their share, then the remainder served up for the staff.

Each day, a family attends – I think by invitation – and they bring food with them too. This morning, they brought quite a variety including probably the most delicious mango I have ever tasted.

After this, we walk the tigers back to their cages and have free time till midday. I usually spend this having a wash, rinsing my clothes out and applying far too little suncream. Then, I pad down to the welcome area and chill out with a book and check my email.

At midday, the cubs are walked down to the canyon area, and they’re followed an hour or so later by the adults. We walk down with the visitors, taking their photos. The next 3-4 hours are spent herding tourists round the canyon, much as we were the previous week.

Most tourists are great. They get a real buzz, just as I did. There’s always a handful who seem to think the rules don’t apply to them and they’ll argue until they’re blue in the face, seeming to think they’re some kind of exception. Actually, yesterday everyone was great except two groups – one of 3 people, one of 2. Both were Greek. I hope this is a coincidence.

When the sun’s starting to get lower and the temeratures ease off slightly (around 4pm), we walk the remaining tourists and tigers back up and go for a wash before dinner. This (yay) is cow pat guy every night. Last night we got 2 helpings, which I needed as I’d missed lunch. Then one of the staff drove into town with one of the volunteers clinging to him and brought back oranges and biscuits!

Tonight I have a new housemate – Zack. He was here a couple of weeks ago and is just back from Chang Mai. As it happens, he grew up with Courtney, one of the other volunteers.

I’ll likely post again towards the end of the week unless something spectacular happens, like I get eaten or something.

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