Here are some outtakes from my day off from shooting for NOVICA/National Geographic in Chiang Mai.
I had heard about the Tiger Kingdom and was determined to go there. It is a Tiger Sanctuary about 15 minutes from Chiang Mai where contrary to what people think, we got to be in the enclosures with the tigers who were undrugged and unchained.
In fact, they were so happy and healthy that they were playing the entire time we were there. Mostly with each other, since their idea of play could really hurt us.
At first we played with the cubs and I even laid on a sleeping cub…amazing. Then we went in the enclosure with the adolescents and watched them wrestle each other. Then FINALLY, we were allowed to join the Big Cats who were over 450 lbs!
They have grown up with people since they were babies and have never had to hunt for their food. They are mainly vegetarians with a litte bit of chicken:)
I was able to take photos of their beautiful faces from inches away and they were so peaceful and calm. I was obsessed with their markings.
Even armed with that knowledge and knowing they could maul us, we chose to go inside and meet them face to face. It was one of the most spectacular animal encounters I have ever had.
These creatures are the most majestic beautiful animals I have ever touched and it’s so sad that there are less than 1100 left in the wild. Thank god there are sanctuaries like this that are helping to save these tigers from extinction.
The next morning we got up super early to go meet the Buddhist monks and watch the people make their daily food offerings and pray to them. We visited a number of temples in Chiang Mai and were tourists for the day. I loved seeing the monks everywhere we were, in temples and walking around the streets. Their religion is so alive here and is just part of their daily existence. Something I am not used to seeing as an American.