Zoo Life


In my dream last night I saw the Swede from Time for Lime/Lanta Animal Welfare making amazing concoctions. She was a molecular gastronomist, using various scientific skills to create masterfully artistic food; a project she was in the process of brewing was edible clothing. We were chewing on the most delightful tasting blue jeans, ripping off a pocket, a belt hoop, and tasting fruity flavors. I wonder if I should visit her again and reveal these visions….I will wait a moment for further confirmation.

I deliberate endlessly whether or not to switch hotels/bungalows/etc. I am in a place beyond my budget and am wondering if I should explore a different beach area. In the end I decide to stay another evening, treating myself to air-conditioning and clean sheets. My body is seeking rest and relaxation and I will honor my needs and consequently only eat cheap sticky rice for the next week, a seemingly wise compromise to my economic affairs. Perhaps bananas and rice.

It is all divine as I return to reception to secure another evening I am told my room is already reserved. A phone call and some words in Thai and I am offered a more superior room for the same price, available a bit later in the afternoon. I will happily accept an upgrade and the charitable proposition to move my (small) backpack for me as well. Wow. Rice is sounding more and more attractive.

The staff at my hotel is too hospitable, offering endless amounts of coffee, tea, and other beverages, the receptionist always smiling and asking how I am. I question about motorbike riding and she offers to let me try for free. I hop on an automatic scooter and fall into the bushes immediately, unaware of the challenges of driving such a vehicle. I have watched countless young children scoot all over Asia, sometimes three kids all on one seat, there is no reason for my ineptness. I ride, barely, up and down the driveway cutting open the skin of my leg. The gentle receptionist tells me it is good luck to have a gash. Sweet.

I fall into a ditch on the side of the road and two men fish me out. Ok, enough for today. I return the bike and set off on foot to the animal shelter. Walking is better for my health and for mama earth. Aho.

At the shelter l I am guided by a German volunteer, a hairless guy and sincere animal lover. We visit the cats lounging sumptuously in an area with toys and ropes I too would find pleasurable and then the recovery area for the mending creatures where some wear plastic head pieces to prevent themselves from licking open their wounds. We play with three kittens that have a total of three eyes for they each lost one to a terrible infection. The kittens are less than two months old and so adorable, in particular the orange and white runt. In the adult dog area there are four different spacious outdoor areas where the dogs are rotated in groups to be endlessly entertained. He also explains the revolving schedule of walking, feeding, cleaning, a complex large grid posted with intricate details (i.e. one dog doesn’t like cats, another only likes some of the other dogs, some dogs prefer to walk to the beach, other like the river route). It seems like the animals are extremely well cared for, particularities and all.

The last animal viewed on the tour is an eagle, one that was found injured in a small town on the north part of the island. The noble bird is nearly recovered and ready to be released back into the wild. He will adapt easily I am told.

I offer to walk a dog for it is that time of day. I take my temporary pal to the beach, enjoying the afternoon warmth of the sun. We have the same coloring it seems, her fur matches my skin. She is too cute and I wish I did not have to return her to a cage. If I worked at a shelter and had my own home, I would probably have hundreds of animals.

Walking back to the hotel I catch a small storm before dining again at my favorite street cart. The ladies cooking wear vibrant head scarfs and pants, modern Muslim women, as most do here on Koh Lanta. They pile on the sticky rice next to the plate of fresh herbs and raw cabbage and make the spiciest papaya salad, grinding thin red chilies with sugar, salt, lime, and tamarind paste in a large stone pot with a pestle, before bruising long beans, cherry tomato, toasted peanuts, and shredded green papaya. I watch inquisitively, trying to memorize each step and ingredient to be able to share such treats with others in the future. I will be a Thai cuisine chef too (although the black jelly stuff I see frequently will not be on the menu). It looks more awesome than it tastes.

At the restaurant next to my hotel, I sit and enjoy the remainder of the evening, Om making me a cocktail with Campari. I ask for a watery weak beverage, alcohol being foreign to my body for other than a tiny polite taste of Lao-Lao and a small glass of wine, I have yet to indulge in such things for quite a long time. The glass is bright orange, mostly Campari, and I sip slowly with gratitude. It is all perfect. I will sleep well again tonight.

One response »

  1. Haha, just stumbled upon this article doing a Google search about Lanta Animal Welfare: And I can say: I remember you!

    Greetings, the “hairless guy” who gave you the tour!

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