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On To Chiang Mai... and The Tiger Kingdom!

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Chiang Mai has definitely lived up to our high expectations so far! The town itself is really nice, with lots of excellent coffee shops (we've had the best coffee in Thailand here), little boutique shops, as well as plenty of street vendors and market stalls that seem a perma fixture in all of the Asian towns and cities we've visited.
The Saturday and Sunday walking streets are without doubt the best markets we have been to on our trip, selling so much different stuff, and most of fairly good quality too. We spent over five hours at each and it felt like half an hour! Ben is less keen than I (I'm a self-professed shopaholic) but we both really enjoyed wandering from stall to stall browsing what was on offer. Our backpacks are certainly bursting at the seams with souvenirs and pressies now! The food stalls at the market are excellent too - similar to our excellent experience at the Patong one, just the food here is even cheaper than at that one!
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At The Sunday Walking Street earlier today.

The real highlight of our stay in Chiang Mai has to be our trip to The Tiger Kingdom yesterday. It was an absolutely amazing experience and definitely something we'll remember forever. The tigers are all really well kept with no chains, and it's obvious they aren't sedated either. We were in two minds as to whether or not we should go, as the last thing we wanted to do was encourage any attraction that mistreats animals, but after doing lots of online research where we found the park had only good reviews, we decided to go and see for ourselves The handlers seemed really well trained, and
although I would obviously much rather not see these beautiful creatures behind the walls of their cages, I feel they are better there than released into the wild where they are surely prey to poachers cruelly wanting their fur, teeth and whiskers. There were some new born cubs too, which I feel is excellent - a breeding programme can only be a good thing within a breed on the threat of extinction.
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With the biggest of the tigers.

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Ben indulging in a tiger selfie! This was with one of the biggest tigers.

We chose to spend fifteen minutes a time with each of the tigers; the big tigers (full grown at 18 months to 2 years old), the medium tigers (12-18 months old), the small tigers (up to 12 months old) and the smallest tigers (up to 3 months old).
Although each tiger experience was amazing, the biggest tigers were definitely the most scary and exciting. The handlers were really great, playing and engaging with the tigers whilst we were in their enclosure, It felt really surreal being inside the tigers enclosure when usually at the zoo, you aren't even allowed near to the tigers cage!
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Another one of us with one of the biggest tigers.
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With one of the medium sized, 12-18 month old tiger. Check out his teeth!!

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Just chillin'!

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Cuddling up!!

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With one of the small, up to 12 month old tigers.

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The smallest tigers were without a doubt the cutest, and the most playful! One tiger ran onto my lap giving me a sharp scratch to the leg in the process - something Ben was really jealous of, saying "I wish I could say I'd been attacked by a tiger"... Typical man.

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Getting my tiger wound seen to. I'm secretly hoping it leaves a badass scar. Mainly just to make Ben jealous!

Our experience with the tigers has definitely been a massive highlight of our trip so far. And we're hoping this next week will be too - we're off to spend the week volunteering at an elephant rescue centre about an hour from Chiang Mai city. We're so excited!

Posted by AmyRossiter26 10:11 Archived in Thailand Tagged animals chiang_mai tigers tiger_kingdom

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