Thursday, December 13, 2007
When Thai Animals Attack
Back in the 88' I was fortunate enough to be dragged throughout Asia accompanied by my parents. In those days, China was still something of an enigma. Not yet the Hyper-Economic giant of today, and caught squarely between the memories of Tiannemen Square and the desire for openess, Deng Xiaopeng , Mao's handpicked sucessor was still in power. Seoul, south Korea had just hosted the Olympic Games, and Thailand was not yet the destination point it is now for so many Americans. Yeah the seedy side was there, and its always been a destination point for Europeans, but not quite as mainstream as it has become. What I'm trying to say here, is that a young lad with western features was not as common in those days as it probably is now.
Thailand, is a beautiful ornate and lively country. Its also insufferably muggy. Now, i've always been a sweaty person, and please know that i share this only for the purpose of the anecdote. In Thailand as a young lad I would sweat through blazers, and ruin white shirts, so allow us to assume that whatever odd scent i may secrete, is being secreted at maximum capacity during our visit.
We went to all the possible tourist attractions near Bankok. The Snake farm and show with an alarming lack of proximity to the audience, that can only be afforded by no regulation of such things, the traditional thai village where tourist play tug of war with an elephant and the quality of the food suffers, but not at the expense of a great show, the palaces of jaw-dropping beauty with a mile long mural depicting the battles of the Ramanaya,and most memorably, The Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo.
Anyone who has felt slightly uneasy at the conditions of a roadside Zoo, know precisely the conditions that exist at Samut Prakan. In lieu of nature, concrete is the best and most inexpensive way to keep animals alive and healthy. So Samut Prakan is a literal contcrete jungle In the middle of this concrete jungle there is a small ampitheater in which a death and logic defying show is put on for the benefit of all who visit and the detraction of the performers (Both Human and Crocodile) as can be seen in this clip (Not for the Faint of Heart)
Yeah, i know. When that crocodile moves to the death roll, your stomach sinks. Dogs and sharks, left to right ripping. Crocs the freakin' roll. They twist things off. Ugh.
You as a spectator can also feed the crocs with the original buckets o' chicken
So, ok. Now that I've traumatised you with the crocs, there's also the elephants. Thailand = elephants. They are everywhee, and at this place there was another elephant show. Remember two paragraphs and a horrid video ago all that stuff
about me smelling funky? Well they do this thing where they ask for volunteers from the audience to lay down on the floor as the elephant walks over them. I figured, what the hey, and presented myself as a volunteer. Well, being the only non thai in the group, the elephant must have smelled a distinct lack of curry in my system. For about 2 minutes the beast stopped and proceeded to molest me with its trunk, to the whoops of laughter from the local crowd. After a few prods from the sharp hook/stick the elephant proceeded, and my parents gave me the usual LaMont family chides about being stinky or weird, or unable to accomplish simple tasks, and continued on their merry way. It was as we were walking away from the pervy pachy that i noticed a chimp swinging about on a leash with no other visible restrain or barrier.
Knowing what i know now, about chiimps ripping off peoples junk and eating their noses, i don't think i would have been as brave as i was then, when Project X was still in my subconcious and all chimps spoke sign language. Most of the locals had made a wide circle around the chimp who was swinging round, playing and being classically chimpy. I approached, fully expecting the same recognition of "Non Thai" that i received from the elephant, except with more "Any which Way But Loose" hilarity.
It spots me.
It walks over, holds on to a sign post , swings around it twice, and slaps the living bejeezus out of me.
One slap, on the cheek. The blow was so hard it spun me around, again to the hoots and laughter of the crowd. Dazed and shamed by a simian, i walked over to my parents who had not seen what had happened and assumed that my beet red face was flushed with the immense joy of having recently been felt up by an elephant. I may have murmurred something about being slapped by a chimp, but as parents sometimes do, they brushed it off or assumed i was talking about pokemon.
To this day, i'm not sure that my parents are even aware that i was chimp-slapped in thailand.
What brought all of this on?
There's a white elephant gift exchange tonight, and white elephants are sacred in Thailand. I figured i should share.