the day I met Richard Parker.

richardparker

Hari ini istimewa banget soalnya hari ini gue bisa ketemuan sama Richard Parker!! YES!! Yang udah nonton film “Life of Pi” pasti tau maksud gue. Jadi gini ceritanya… Gue dapet info bahwa ada tempat di Chiang Mai bernama “Tiger Kingdom” dimana kita bisa masuk kandang harimau dewasa, terus bisa foto-foto sepuasnya sama si harimau tanpa dimakan. Wah, seriusan nih?? Seru amat. Wajib dateng dong ya.

It’s such a special day since I got to meet up with Richard Parker FACE TO FACE at this place called “Tiger Kingdom”. Just watched “Life of Pi” for the third time two weeks ago, so I got more excited. Like for real?

Waktu siap-siap berangkat, gue sengaja pake baju kaos macan tutul supaya matching ama harimau-nya. Siapa tau prosentase selamat gue bisa lebih tinggi karena dikira temen bukan mangsa. Hehehe.

Hal pertama yang harus dibuat ialah nyari tuk-tuk atau angkot yang mau nganter ke sana. Dari tengah kota Chiang Mai jarak ke “Tiger Kingdom” ialah 15km (setengah jam perjalanan) dan nggak ada kendaraan umum kesana, jadi kita harus sewa sendiri. Gue nemu sebuah angkot yang mau antar pulang pergi dengan harga Rp.125 ribu. Hajar!!! (kata orang lokal, segitu harga normal untuk turis, jadi gue langsung ambil aja).

I put on my leopard printed t-shirt to increase my percentage of staying alive 😀 and hailed a ‘songtaew’ – a red minibus which is the most common public transport in Chiang Mai- to take me to “Tiger Kingdom”. It’s located 15 km away from the city and the songtaew driver offered me a good price of 400 Bahts to drive me there and take me back afterwards.

richarparker

Sampai di “Tiger Kingdom” kita disuruh milih untuk foto sama harimau besar doang, medium doang, kecil doang, bayi doang atau campuran antara beberapa ukuran harimau. Harganya beda semua tuh. Gue udah jelas hanya ngincer yang paling gede disini. Jadi gue bayar untuk foto ama satu jenis aja sebanyak Rp.150 ribu/orang untuk ngabisin 15 menit bareng si harimau. “Tiger Kingdom” nawarin jasa fotografer yang bisa nemenin kita selama di kandang dengan harga Rp.110 ribu, dan kita bakal dikasih CD foto-fotonya. Gue bawa kamera sendiri sih, jadi nggak usah deh, makasih.

When we arrived at “Tiger Kingdom”, we were greeted by the staff and asked which tigers we wanted to see. Oh, I just want to see the large ones please! (18-24 month old tigers).  The price to hang out with the large tigers for 15 minutes is 420 Bahts. They offered us a photographer to company us inside for 299 Bahts, but I passed.

richardparker

richardparker

Dari lobi depan tempat nunggu giliran, kandang harimaunya udah langsung keliatan. Buset, gede banget harimau nya yaaakkk!!! Syok gue. Yang disebut ‘kandang’ ialah sebuah halaman kecil lengkap dengan kolam air. Tempat itu juga bukan cuma dihuni satu harimau, tapi ada 5 ekor harimau besar. Ada yang lagi bengong, lagi tiduran, lagi lari-lari, dan lagi main air. Begitu giliran gue tiba…. O ow…. Jadi masuk nggak nih ya. Tiba-tiba deg-deg an berat. Jantung berdebar kencang. Rasanya gue inget kayak waktu dulu pas SMA, gue belajar fisika semalaman, tiba-tiba besokannya sampe sekolah ternyata gue salah jadwal dan ulangan nya kimia. Mo mampus gitu rasanya…

From the lobby where I waited, I could see the large tigers already right there in front of my eyes. My goodness, they are certainly big cats and very active ones. Is it safe? Suddenly i became so nervous. My heart started beating so hard. What if they eat me or something? But then my curiosity overruled. Let’s go in.

Aduhhh ini aman nggak ya?

richardparker

Sebelum masuk, kita harus baca peraturan didepan kandang bahwa kita dilarang bertatap mata dengan harimau. Dilarang mendekati harimau dari depan  (harus dari belakang atau samping) terus dilarang bikin suara yang bikin kaget, dan dilarang foto pake flash. Ok, hafal. Let’s go in. Deg-deg an masih nggak hilang, gue memberanikan diri masuk ke dalam kandang sambil nyiapin kamera. Hello Richard Parker….harimaunya diem aja, sambil ngelengos jalan ninggalin gue. Udah bosen didetengin turis kali ya.

We had to read and study the rules for a few minutes before we walked in to the cage. No flash camera, no sudden loud noises, no approaching the animals head on, no eye contact, and stay calm cause animals can smell fear… ha, i added the last one myself. Our guide helped us approach the tigers and then i said my first line “Hello Richard Parker, nice to meet you…”

richardparker

richardparker

richardparker

Kita disini masuk ditemenin sama seorang pawang yang ngebantuin kita foto-foto sama harimau. Lama-lama tenang juga jadinya, nggak panik lagi. Gue pindah dari satu harimau ke harimau lain, dan nunggu momen yang pas aja untuk bisa foto. Beruntung banget gue kesini sore hari menjelang tutup, jadi jatah 15 menit gue molor sampai setengah jam lebih karena udah nggak ada lagi yang antri di belakang kita. Kalo jam sibuk, pasti gue udah diusir dari tadi, secara gue jadinya mulai betah dan lebih cenderung ke doyan. Mentang-mentang harimau-nya baik, jadi gue kejer kesana sini untuk bisa pose bareng. HA!

The first tiger we met glanced at us and then walked away, so the guide asked us just to move on to another one. “That one is having a bad mood, let’s leave him alone” he said. Oh okay. After a few minutes, I became more comfortable with the four other tigers. I was lucky cause I was one of the last visitors (it was around 5 pm), so my 15 minutes time limit stretched to more than a half an hour. More photo opps for me. I kinda ‘chased’ them to strike a pose together, in a polite and normal way of course, i still wanna live. There was this rumor about these tigers being drugged to stay calm. But once there, i was totally sure that the rumor was not true. They were very active and alert.The guide said that these tigers had been around humans their whole lives, and they were used to being petted by strangers.

 

richardparker

richardparker

richardparker

richardparker

Di “Tiger Kingdom” mereka menjamin bahwa harimau disini sama sekali tidak dibius atau dikasi obat tidur, terbukti dengan keaktifan mereka di kandang. Semua harimau (katanya) dilatih dengan teknik benar dan baik untuk terbiasa dengan manusia sejak lahir dan tidak agresif.

Gue: “Gimana pak, udah ada yang mati digigit harimau belom disini?”

Me: “Has anyone died here, being eaten or at least bitten by these tigers?”

Pawang: “Sejauh ini belom sih, asal nurut aja sama peraturan yang ada aman kok”

Guide: “No one has died here. As long as you follow the rules and make the tigers feel safe, you will also be safe”

Gue: “Hobi nya harimau disini apa ya?”

Me: “What are the tigers do all they long here?”

Pawang: “Mereka suka main dan suka banget digaruk garuk perutnya kalo lagi tidur… yang itu di pojok lagi ngantuk, silahkan coba kalau mauu…”

Guide: “Well, they like to play, mostly in the water. They like being rubbed in the belly when they are sleeping. Wanna try it? cause that one right there looks sleepy”

Gue: “Nggak tiap hari bisa garuk-garuk perut harimau…ayo pak kita coba”

Me: “SURE! let’s do that”

richardparker

richardparker

Puas sudah ngabisin waktu bareng para harimau ini, gue keluar dari kandang sambil senyum-senyum sendiri. Gila ya, ini salah satu pengalaman yang antik dan sangat berkesan. Kalau ada kesempatan lagi, gue mau banget kesini lagi. Di “Tiger Kingdom” selain ngeliat puluhan ekor harimau dari berbagai ukuran, gue juga ngeliat satu ekor singa jantan dari jarak dekat, beberapa ekor bayi harimau yang baru lahir dan seekor harimau putih. Wow. Walau banyak pihak yang nggak setuju bahwa hewan buas dikandangin, gue tetap merasa kalau di Asia mereka lebih aman dan terawat disini ketimbang diburu dan punah diluar sana. Hanya satu saja harapan, andai kandang-kandang yang ada lebih besar…jauh lebih besar. Andai.

We made it safely through our day, leaving the tigers with big smiles on our faces. I can say probably it was one of the most surreal experiences for me personally. Standing next to a predator, stroking the animal’s fur, the soft hairs running through my fingers, it was crazy. I know people are having a pro and con out there about domesticating tigers, but in Asia I’d prefer seeing them well fed, taken care of and alive in “Tiger Kingdom” than being in the wild, hunted, and then extinct. My only wish is that someday they will have bigger cages for the tigers. The ones they have now are waaaayyy too small for the animals.

Take care now Richard Parker! See you next time!

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richardparker

richardparker

richardparker

 i pet a tiger. need i say more? -olivelatuputty.com – @shiningliv


 

2 comments to the day I met Richard Parker.

  • alidesta  says:

    wow keren bgt mba blognya, yg punya lbh oke 🙂

    • Olive  says:

      thank u

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