Tiger Temple…is that it?

I felt like a jerk even as I asked the question.

“How do I get to ‘Tiger Temple’ and is it worth it?”


I didn’t mean to sound like that guy. The one who is really saying “I’ve, like, traveled so much that, like, temples and stuff just don’t impress me any more. I’m THAT worldly. It has to be really amazing to be worth my time.”

I meant “Is it something ‘real’ or an amusement-parky tourist trap for people like me whose day-tours are cancelled by bad weather and find themselves with a day to burn in Krabi, Thailand?”

That’s barely better. But Thailand…has had a lot of tourism.


The grungy guesthouse owner (grungy guesthouse that is, the owner looked like he showers sometimes) replied that it was definitely worth it, so I took the shared pick-up taxi/truck (called a sŏrngtăaou in Thailand) to a large gold dome with a skeletal structure crouching above it in unfinished concrete that looked more like a municipal water tower than a temple. Or maybe the secondary entrance to a baseball park built in the early 1980s.

Tiger Temple 01At the bottom were two large tiger statues that would fit in just fine outside a carnival ride, bubble gum stuck to the bottoms of their “menacing” claws, and rings on their backs from where people set down their slushies.


Oh dear. It’s worse than I feared.

The tigers were guarding a room with a nun so bored she was basically sleeping, and at least a dozen donation boxes. Subtle.


Tiger Temple 04Then the Russians arrived. That helped a bit. The last couple years have shown the Russians to be the Next Big Wave. The previous wave was bed bugs.

Russian tourists haven’t yet learned that you don’t have to take a picture with your head in the tiger’s mouth. At a temple. (I admit the likely existence of hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of Westerners doing the exact same thing. But come one….they’re Russian. They’re so much fun to give a hard time.)

I tried to flirt with one, just because how great would THAT be? But she could only giggle and say “I…English no.”


Tiger Temple 05I climbed to the top past innumerable scatterings of bird shit and stagnant puddles gathering on the poorly-graded concrete steps.

Halfway there were some little bells. That was kinda pretty. (Sigh.)

I kept expecting to hear “The starting lineup for the visiting Cleveland Indians…” but there was only wind and the faint metal taps of the bells now below me. At the top was an altar in a dreary room of puddles, bat squeaks, and pigeon shit. Stacks of rebar lay around, rusting away without ever being installed. There’s something so tragic about that, no?

I wrote my little message in the dust. There was plenty of space beside the two Spaniards who quieren each other very much.

Tiger Temple 07

Time to go home I guess.

Then I noticed the peeking golden glints of a temple on top of the hill high overhead, and I could just see steep flights of stairs ascending the sheer cliffside. Ohhhhh. Now you’re talking!


I headed that way…