The disjointed start to my stay in Chiang Mai only added to my relief and excitement when I finally arrived. The Chiang Mai Gate Hotel was like an oasis of calm and tranquility. The rooms are spacious, the beds comfy and there’s a pool and free wifi (seems to be a given wherever you are in Thailand).
Next stop was Tiger Kingdom. I was hesitant about heading here as I’d heard many stories about drugged up tigers, even so I wanted to check it out. The place was packed with tigers in various enclosures. I opted to spend some time with the smallest tigers, who were only a few weeks old. Sadly, I have my suspicions that these tigers weren’t entirely drug free. I asked lots of questions and apparently they are just fed very well every day so they have no need to hunt and kill. This didn’t sit too well with me though, so I lasted minutes in their enclosure before I felt too uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just being hyper sensitive but I’ve come to the conclusion that tigers like all animals probably shouldn’t live their lives couped up for the benefit of a stream of tourists to get great pics. I chose not to take any photos and left feeling a little sad that they live their lives in captivity.
Even though I was shattered I chose to go to a Thai cooking class in the evening. It had been highly recommended and a group of guys I arrived in Chiang Mai with were also keen to learn to cook the Thai way. We headed to a class around 20-30mins (by car) outside of Chiang Mai. As soon as I arrived at Baan Hongnual, I knew it was the right decision as the setting was beautiful – a converted barn which was traditional but had proper work stations.
It’s a family run business with a lovely lady called Amporn Hongnual leading the class. We learnt to cook authentic Pad Thai, Tom Yum soup, Thai Green Curry and Spring roles. All whilst learning about the herbs, spices, fruits and seasonings used in Thai cooking. Some of the ingredients I thought I recognised but learnt they were relatives of the more common varieties we find back in the UK. Khaa/Galangal also known as Siamese Ginger featured a fair bit in our dishes. Once we’d prepped and cooked we sat down and feasted with cans of Chang beer and a never ending supply of bottled water.
I can’t recommend this class highly enough, at only 800 BT, which included transport there and back we also got given a recipe book with the dishes we cooked plus loads more. I learnt lots and can’t wait to try some proper Thai cooking when I return. If you’re interested in doing this class email email@example.com.
I’m sure the tigers are drugged, but even if they aren’t, tigers are kidnapped and stolen from the wild, with who knows what violence to the animals and destruction of the environment, and then they are kept in a sort of prison for profit.
It’s the tiger equivalent of human trafficking. This is similarly true with most of the places that showcase elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, butterflies, etc.
Hey Dan, yep it’s disgusting! I wrote this post around 4 years ago. I was naive to the full horrors but my instincts knew it was wrong. I’ve since done plenty of research & bang the drum on animal exploitation. Thanks for commenting, it’s an important issue to me too.