As many of you got a chance to see, tigers were unleashed into our story not too long ago in a little place called Thailand. But allow me to back up a bit…
We chose Thailand for our Spring Break trip after Cambodia fell through. We’ll get there one day, but today: Thailand.
We were there for one week & packed a lot in…our suitcases. jk. our trip.
To be honest, my knowledge of Thailand only extended to their food. I love me some good Thai food. This was enough to make me REALLY happy we were going, but what I found when we got there was so much more. I mean, THE FOOD. But also, EVERYTHING ELSE.
(& yes I’m talking about the tigers, but just HOLD YOUR HORSES…AND YOUR TIGERS!)
First off, we left 30 degree Japan & landed in 95 degree Thailand. It was glorious.
We landed right in the middle of Chiang Mai…& Thailand’s New Year celebration, called Songkran Festival. Translated directly to English, this means “nationwide water fight”. I’m not kidding. I mean I AM kidding about the translation, but NOT about the very serious business of hosting a water fight for THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. It was mayhem. And hilarious. And sopping, soaking, dripping wet with the barrels of canal water being sloshed on you at every street corner…& every street…& every tuk tuk ride. We purchased SuperSoakers at our earliest convenience & joined right in. I would love to say I got epic action shots of this water fight situation, but camera + water = insurance plan. No thanks. It will live on in my water-logged memory though.
CALM DOWN. WE’RE GETTING TO THE TIGERS.
Other than the water fight, Chiang Mai offered a host of enormously fun activities.
Like riding enormous elephants on a jungle trek, for one. This I have pictures of…
We also got to bamboo raft down a river and sunbathe, something the Thai people laughed at me for.
Beauty standards truly are arbitrary.
Tans are not desired in sunny Thailand & I was asked multiple times why I didn’t have an umbrella & did I want one to maintain my perfectly pale skin?
This (half) Mexican got a tan.
& a coconut with a straw in it.
We travelled for most of the trip with Jesse & Donnie, two friends we met in Japan who have cameo-ed on the blog before… Jesse’s the one squatting on the rock. Donnie was our raft-pole-user for a hot minute. (Does anyone say “hot minute” anymore?)
I feel like there was one other thing we did in Chiang Mai…what was it again?
Ugh, I’m totally blanking…
A cooking class! I know y’all wouldn’t want me to leave THAT out! My heart is pumping just REMEMBERING. Talk about thrills, ammirite? (alternate spellings include ammiright, am I right, & am I rite. I obviously chose the hippest. go & do likewise.)
We got to cook in an open air kitchen at the Baan Hongnual Cookery School. Our guide, Kuan, was so friendly & kitchen-savvy. She took us to the market & we got to buy all of our ingredients fresh from the vendors. That was a unique experience on its own, but chopping it up & cooking it was straight off of the Food Channel. I was living my Chopped dream.
Also, I got to use a wok & now I must have one.
Later that day we visited some ruins that have been discovered in Chiang Mai within the last decade! Some are over 700 years old! Plus Oakie tried on all the hats at the handmade goods & wares markets we went to…
We then moved on to Bangkok & got to visit an Elephant Park & the floating market. There were baby elephants so this chick was loving every second.
And on our last day in Bangkok, we made a special trip to see the largest reclining Buddha in the world, located at Wat Pho. “Wat Pho holds the distinction of having both Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha image and the largest number of Buddha images in Thailand.” We also found the original “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” monkeys at the Temple of the Dawn.
Definitely a highlight. And yes, we went to the Temple of the Dawn at dawn.
You should feel silly for asking.
Also, full disclosure, I just listened to Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean while I typed because my sister, Sarah Ann, just planted a garden & now she thinks she’s a farmer & it seemed like the right thing to do.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M STALLING THE TIGER PHOTO REVEAL?!
*YOU’RE* STALLING THE TIGER PHOTO REVEAL!!
Yes, there are 40 pictures here.
Yes, you can click on them to look at them all up close.
Yes, those are real tigers.
No, they were not drugged. Just hand-reared & well-fed.
Yes, 60% of my smiles have a hammering heart behind them & are masking real live fear.
In all seriousness, this was the most intense experience of my life.
And I’ve been sky-diving.
These animals are massive.
You think you can imagine the size of their heads, but you can’t imagine how you will feel when you’re sitting next to those heads and reaching out to pet them.
They were majestic, glorious, imposing.
They were precious in an over-sized kitty way, but entirely demanding of every ounce of respect you’ve ever had for nature.
They aren’t as soft as you might think.
Every second in their enclosure, their turf, was like borrowed time.
It felt like I was giving them access to my life & hoping they’d let me walk back out with it.
I would apologize for being slightly dramatic, but have YOU ever sat down next to a 200 hundred pound tiger & processed how that made you feel?
As we were standing outside the cages looking in at the next group we’d get to pet, Donnie said to me, “It’s like a small glimpse of how we should feel about God.”
C.S. Lewis was on to something when he made Aslan a lion.
I was terrified, awestruck & giving my absolute attention & respect to that creature when we were encountering each other.
It had the ability to crush me, to maul me, to utterly change my entire life in half a second. If it had really wanted to harm me, no guide with a 12-inch bamboo stick could’ve stopped it.
It reminds me of a story about Jesus in Mark 7:24-30. It’s the story of a Gentile woman, a Syrophoenician woman, approaching Jesus to be specific. Reminder: from the Old Testament we know that God chose a specific group of people through which to show the world who He was & His plan to rescue us all. They were the Israelites. The Jews. When Jesus shows up, He wants to give them an opportunity to be a part of the grand rescue of the world first; not exclusively, but first. Any Gentile would know this. The long-awaited Messiah was of the Jews & for the Jews, as far as they knew.
Ah, but that Syrophoeneician woman had a problem. Her daughter was ill. Her daughter was possessed by a demon & she needed help now. So when she hears that Jesus, that crazy Jewish guy who can heal anyone, is in town, she goes.
She walks straight into the cage with the tiger.
And she asks Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
And He tells her what might appear to be an insult on the outside, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread & throw it to the dogs.”
And she says right back to Him, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”
What is happening here? Tim Keller puts it this way:
“One key to understanding it is the very unusual word Jesus uses for “dogs” here. He uses a diminutive form, a word that really means “puppies.” […] Jesus is saying to her, ‘You know how families eat: First the children eat at the table, and afterward their pets eat too. It is not right to violate that order. The puppies must not eat food from the table before the children do. […] I was sent only to the lost lambs of Israel.’ […] He was sent to show Israel that He was the fulfillment of all Scripture’s promises […]. But after He was resurrected, He immediately said to the disciples, ‘Go to all the nations.’ His words, then, are not the insult they appear to be. What he’s saying […] is, ‘Please understand, there’s an order here. I’m going to Israel first, then the Gentiles (the other nations) later.’ However, she comes back with an astounding reply: […] ‘Okay, I understand. I am not from Israel, I do not worship the God that the Israelites worship. Therefore, I don’t have a place at the table. I accept that. […] But there’s more than enough on that table for everyone in the world, and I need mine now.’ She is wrestling with Jesus in the most respectful way and she will not take no for an answer.
In western culture, we don’t have anything like this kind of assertiveness. We only have assertion of our rights. […] But this woman is not doing that at all. This is rightless assertiveness, something we know nothing about. She’s not saying, ‘Lord, give me what I deserve on the basis of my goodness.’ She’s saying, ‘Give me what I DON’T deserve on the basis of YOUR goodness–and I need it now.'”
She walks right up to the tiger & asks Him to use His power to help her & not hurt her.
He is majestic, glorious, imposing.
He is precious in His gentleness, but entirely demanding of every ounce of respect she’d ever had for authority.
Every second in His presence is like borrowed time.
She gave Him access to her life & hoped He’d let her walk back out with her daughter’s.
He had the ability to crush her, to maul her, but instead He chose to utterly change her entire life in half a second.
Being beside those animals was the closest I’ve ever come to the kind of awestruck fear that the Bible talks about.
Real talk, there was a minute there where I had to walk out with tears in my eyes because it was all just a little too scary.
It was amazing.
And I get to know that the God who came up with the idea for tigers is on my side, a lion to my enemies: Fear, guilt, anxiety.
And a lamb to me.
I get to pet the Tiger.