Tiger Temple…oh, THAT’s it.

I counted 211 steps down from the top of the kitschy Tiger Temple. With a spackling of bird crap about every other flight of stairs, 8 steps per flight, that’s roughly 13 crap zones. Charming temple you have here. Really.

But the golden pagodas peaking over the edge of the dramatic cliff far overhead promised something altogether more interesting waited up there.

The sign at the bottom said there were 1,237 stairs. Now you’re talking.Tiger Temple 09

It was not nearly as long as Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, but was surprisingly steep. I arrived at the top completely soaked in sweat, and much happier than I’d been at the first kitschy “temple.”


THIS was a view. The landscape of southern Thailand is incredible, with green jungle washing up and onto epic karst eruptions of pure geologic artistry. Mother Earth is a sculptor.

Add a clean fresh breeze blowing the sweat off your back, just enough raindrops to make it interesting, and a few gold Buddha statues abiding it all with perfect equanimity, and you’ve earned the price of the sŏrngtăaou.

Tiger Temple 10

I found two young English parents with a precocious little girl who appreciated my offer to take their picture. The parents appreciated it at least, the little one just wanted to run up and down the stairs to the altar that looked out over the green landscape.

“Mummy, I want to show you sumfing!”


Back at the bottom I found Wat Tam Seua, “Tiger Cave”, which gives the tiger name to the area due to a rock formation that looks like a tiger’s claw, or, depending on which site you read, they used to keep a tiger in the cave at the back. Given the tiny size of the cave, I hope it was the rock formation.

There’s no tiger in there now, but there is an unearthly emerald-green Buddha.TIger Temple Emerald Buddha 2

I was digging into a plate of sticky pad thai at a stall outside when the sŏrngtăaou driver back to Krabi appeared. “How much you pay?” I told him. He sort of walked away. Does that mean “no”?

Whatever. It was a swell day, so I strolled out to the road with a song on my lips and started stepping through the 8 km to Krabi. The clouds were threatening rain as usual, but humans are remarkably waterproof, my trusty Timbuktu bag is as well, and after growing up with cold California rain conceived in Alaska, the warmth of a monsoon shower feels more like a reward than a tribulation.

Tiger Temple 12Motorbikes sped past with theatrical puttering, and the breeze was fresh. I felt good, and the songs just kept getting better. Feeling the flow.

A guy just climbing on the motorcycle in his front yard asked where I was going.

“Krabi” I told him. He nodded, pointed at the clouds and gestured at the back of his bike.

I’m developing a love of motorcycles, and I was already smiling when we approached the first red light. I was expecting to stop among the little flock of puttering moto’s in front, but oh no, not us.

He gunned the engine and we were up on the sidewalk, over some debris, thump back onto the road and across four lanes of traffic, then cut the far corner of the intersection and along we went down the road, free as the birds that crap all over the kitschy temple.

At the next red we didn’t even slow, just a casual head turn to look as we flew through it.

Now THIS was worth the price of admission! Cute kitsch temple, great hike, amazing view, now this ride? The day just kept getting better!


Thank you, random dude! I’m sorry I couldn’t thank you more than “Kop kun kap! Thai people…very good!” but you seemed to understand.