There are six of me. No really, I have five sisters (and two brothers!) that are also addicted to traveling and love to write. Here is my sister Lenore’s experience in Thailand.
There are two activities that cause me to bolt out of bed in the morning. The first is in-utero baby appointments, the second is international flights for adventures. We ubered from Danville to SFO where we met up with the rest of our travel party. They caught one flight and we caught another, both to Tokyo but to DIFFERENT AIRPORTS. Ha. Check your airports friends.
The vans in Bangkok are my second dream vans. Toyota makes these fancy 9 or more passenger vans with tricked out interiors. I wish they were available in America because all moms would drive them.
The next morning we arranged a killer tour through a company we found on Trip Advisor: Tours with Tong. The guide Lily spoke pretty good English and was totally accommodating to our needs for snacks and bathrooms. There was a tour guide and a 9 passenger van driver which cost about 4000 baht for the day. That's about $120 American. Cash is king in Thailand so if you go show up with about $300 in baht. Every couple of days I took out another $300 which we used to pay drivers, take tuk tuks, pay for food, pay for everything. For the 6 of us combined I'd budget about $100/day maybe for everything? Our hotel for all 6 of us was about $50/night in Bangkok and our AirBnB in Phuket was about $100/night. Here are the links of where we stayed, in case you're planning. I would ABSOLUTELY stay at the AirBnB in Phuket again. I want to buy it. Here's Urban House and here's the magical AirBnB: Rawai
Our first stop was about an hour and 30 outside of Bangkok so we saw the countryside before we saw the city. Every other block had a glamorous Buddhist temple with the golden curly and ornate detailing. Thailand feels magical because of these gorgeous buildings looming around every corner resplendent with mirrored tiled mosaics. The monks really outdo themselves. Each home dwelling also has a spirit home shrine in front of them which look like mini temples. We learned that the Thai people believe strongly in folklore and mythology so you see a lot of sparkly guys with masks and magical animals. More on that at the Siam Niramit show.
Destination 1 was one of the main motivations of this trip: my kids wanted to see animals. There's a zoo in Kanchanaburi where they keep the baby animals separate so that guests can interact with them. For $15 you can go into the cages one by one and feed these baby animals bottles. They are not sedated but they are chosen because of their age and temperament. Each animal has a cat nanny who works with it daily and goes in there with you. You feel at risk for scratches but the animals are babies for the most part or, in the case of the the lion Jude hung out with, it is just a really mellow beast that has never scratched nor bit anyone ever.
Not so with the tigers.
In went Jude to the young lion's cage. He was appropriately nervous because feeding animals with bottles is different from his extensive experience feeding babies. They eat aggressively. And they're thicker than house cats so you have to pet roughly. It started out apprehensive but then became snuggle time.
Next up went Blake and Silas into the baby lion cage. There were two snuggly lions who were like teddy bears. One of them latched on to Blake's hand but didn't break the skin. They were both brave and they loved it.
Then Mimi went in with the leopard. She put on Jude's shirt in case they crawled on her shoulders, which they did. Beautiful animals, leopards. She spent a lot of time playing with them.
It was my turn. I chose the tigers. I am an idiot.
There were four 4 month old tigers prowling around their cage. They were active. They were hungry. I threw caution to the wind and went in.
Of course when they told me to sit down over on the bench the tigers were milling around I thought "I should definitely not sit down on the bench the tigers are milling around." But I did it anyway because I am both brave and stupid. And one crawled on my back like Philo does every day and sunk his fangs into my shoulder. The guide happened to be filming and caught it on tape. I quickly pulled the tiger off and left the cage. When I took my hand away it was a bloody mess but in the chaos we didn't get a good picture of my bloody shoulder before the cat nanny pounced on me with iodine and bandaids. True to form, I could not stop laughing. It's my fear and pain coping mechanism and many of my babies have come into the world to the sound of my cackling.
After the incident everybody bullied me into feeding the nice lion that Jude fed. I did it and I didn't like it. I'm done feeding jungle cats.