Hey, guys! Sorry for the lack of updates – I’ve been super busy rushing deadlines, since our magazine is due to be printed soon. :) Now that that’s over and done, I finally have time for a breather. (I’m also working on a side writing project but major writer’s block kicked in… figured it would be fine to sleep on it for a couple of days.)
Let’s get back to my recent Phuket trip ! Halfway through our tour, it started raining heavily and we were forced to run back to the car. It floods easily on the streets – after a short downpour, many roads were inundated with a few inches of muddy water. I’d hate to imagine how it must be during the rainy season! Good thing our car was a big, high SUV.
Since we couldn’t go to any outdoor attractions, our guide ferried us to see the Phuket Cobra Show. The mini ‘farm’ is located within the compound of a paintball/shooting range. It was a simple structure with zinc roofing and a few concrete wells and cages. H & I were the only two people visiting at that time so we had the guide all to ourselves lol.
The ‘well’ cages were filled with vegetation and rocks. Since it was raining, the water level in the cage was high so we couldn’t see the snakes in them. .__.
I didn’t know H was afraid of snakes, so she basically screamed whenever we got too close to one lol. There were a bunch of mangrove snakes or gold-ringed cat snake (Boiga dendrophila). They’re slim, mildly venomous (ie you probably won’t die from a bite but it’ll hurt like hell) and very fast.
A random crocodile chillin in the water.
A large, reticulated python, which is common in many parts of Southeast Asia. They are the world’s longest snakes, and can grow up to 6m. Although not as large as the Anaconda in South America, the python is not less deadly, with a thick body and powerful muscles. There was even a case in Malaysia where a python attacked a rubber tapper and attempted to swallow the man – but was killed halfway through eating him when police shot the animal.
It was time for the highlight of our visit – the Snake Show! I felt a little bad for having these men risk their lives to put on a show for us, even though it is their livelihood. These are wild animals and no matter how much humans try to train them, they can have a bad day and just decide to bite you. As the guide stressed multiple times during our tour: “The king cobra is highly venomous. If it bites you and you don’t get the antivenom within 30 minutes, you die.”
“How far away is the nearest hospital?” I asked.
“30 minutes.” he said with a straight face.
The show was done in a small pit, while we sat on raised bleachers. That made me feel a bit safer, in case the snakes decided to run amok. It was just the two of us, so it felt like we had booked the entire show!
There were three boxes in a corner, filled with snakes. Music (techno, no less!) blasted in the background, while another staff member did a running commentary.For starters, our performer took out a fat, shedding King Cobra. It stared at us for a couple of seconds, as if it knew that was it’s ‘part’ of the show.
Then the guy took out one cobra after another and lined them up in the pit. The hall rang with the sound of sharp hisses. (Contrary to what people say, I think snakes don’t make a ‘Ssssss’ sound. It’s more like a ‘Thhhh’. Like when you whistle through your teeth.)
H & I held our breath – the guy had nothing to protect him other than a thin stick(!), which he used to push and pull the snakes around. They all had their heads reared, bobbing up and down as they stared at the man.
Then the performer kissed one of the snakes on the head. I bit my nails.
One of the snakes did a booboo while the show was on, so he had to change it for another snake. I learnt something new – snake poop is bright yellow.
On to the next performer, who worked with two mangrove snakes. These were thinner; their movements fast and agile.
He then did a trick where he clamped the snake between his lips. And posed for this photo. :D
They saved the best for last. A big King Cobra, at least as thick as my arm, and measuring a good 2ms ++. Despite it’s bulk, it moved fast.
Even so, the snake seemed to have a ‘relationship’ with the performer. You can tell that the snake wasn’t really going to strike, it was simply putting on a show. Still, wild animals aren’t predictable – and snakes aren’t exactly fluffy bunnies.
Towards the end, they brought it to me so I could ‘touch it for good luck’ (ie so that they can take a picture to sell to me for 300B). H ran 50ms away. Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not feel slimy at all – they are cool, dry , and all muscle. It’s like touching a strong, thick bicep (albeit a scaly one)
It was definitely an eye opening experience, one that we wouldn’t be able to find back in Malaysia. For that, I think it was worth the (rather steep) entry price of 500B. If you’re up to more adventure, the show is inside a famous shooting range where you can also play paintball and ride on ATVs.
Check out the video here!
Phuket Cobra Show