Temples (Wats) in Kanchanaburi
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Anyone going to Thailand should get used to one idea - you are going to see a lot of temples whether you seek them out or not. Take a journey of any decent length in Bangkok and you are sure to go past at least one, probably more. Temples play vital roles both in the society at large and local communities. Temples of course play the same role as places of worship in other religions, dealing with births, deaths, and marriages, but there are no set services in like, for instance, in a western church, and people turn up when they wish. People visit the temple when they are in need of spiritual guidance, when they are celebrating a special occasion, and when they need to receive a blessing or want to make merit in a bid to change their fortune or for a good afterlife. The temple is even a place to have your fortune told! Of course, many temples are steeped in history (some thousands of years) and have played key roles in the unfolding of Thailand's history. Although travelers and budget tourists stay in Thailand longer than your average tourist, it is still difficult to grasp the historical intricacies of specific temples in the relatively short time most people are in the country. But for many, historical relevance is not the main reason for a visit. Temple design and decoration and the ritual of daily temple life are spectacles that prove fascinating for the uninitiated. Simply put, temples offer a rich texture of sounds, smells and new experiences. They are places to enjoy that few visitors easily forget.
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Wat Pa Luang Bua - the tiger temple
This is perhaps the only place in the world where you can cuddle up to adult tigers in a beautifully natural jungle setting.
Wat Pa Luang Bua began as a forest monastery. Local villagers began bringing injured birds and animals to the temple and entrusting them to the care of the monks. Before long, the temple had a varied menagerie; with deer, horses, gibbons and boar all enjoying the free and easy hospitality.
Then, in 1999, an injured tiger cub was brought to the monks. The mother had been killed by poachers. Before long, the monks found themselves in charge of several tiger cubs, which quickly grew into adult tigers. The Abbot, Pha Acorn Chan, was enchanted by the new arrivals and happily took on the role of adoptive parent. Having no formal training, the monks had to learn how to handle and coexist with the tigers.
Faced with the enormous costs of feeding and housing the tigers, the monks have opened their home to the public, in order to raise funds for the tigers and share their unique experience of mutual care and trust.
Admission is 350 Baht, including a colour booklet and photographs. It is best to arrive around 2 pm, when bathing takes place, and stay until they are walked back to their cages at 5 pm.
Avoid making loud noises, wearing bright colours, especially red, and strong perfume.
You can book a tour from Kanchanaburi, or hire a motorbike.
Follow highway 323 north-west for about 38 kms.
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