Tropicana Koh Chang and their cats
My sister Olga loves animals - she is always collecting some food in restaurants and kitchens and then running around looking for cats and dogs to feed. One day she could not find any creatures, but met a serious German lady who is as crazy as Olga. She said she would wait for the cats to turn up even if late into the night, so Olga gave her the plastic bags with her offerings.
The garden in the Tropicana resort is huge and there are many water basins - ponds and canals, full of fish. Little wooden bridges make it fun for cats to reach down and hunt their prey. You can see in the pictures how Ginger is setting herself for a an hour of fun. Ginger is a very hard working cat, unlike her friend, the Queen of the Night. The Queen has never done a decent day of food hunting, but as a true model, recognises her photogenic little body and is hanging off pedestals, arranging herself on benches, rolling in the sun and constantly looks simply fabulous
I have a friend like that. He is a natural poseur, but at the same time looks good in every pose, from every side. What can you do? Nature is funny like that.
Meanwhile Ginger has her cunning green eyes and is acting as the overachiever she is. Her body is almost golden and is shining in the afternoon sun. Ginger joins customers on their balconies and waits in the best chair when they bring some snacks to eat. She is not shy or fearful, simply jumps on the chair and feels she belongs. Ginger talks. She mieows a few times but if you tell her that everything is fine, she stops and starts purring. She has a scrawny little sister, Pauper, the same colour but much younger and skinnier. Pauper spends her time chasing guests around and weaving herself between their legs. There is absolutely no way you can get rid of her if she is planning to take a walk with you. Cleaning and gardening staff say "don't let them into the room, because you will never get them out". Clearly, cats are keeping staff under their little feet.
I was running around with a plastic bag of chicken legs that we had not managed to consume. Pauper simply jumped in it and started chewing before I've managed to put the bag on the ground. I was pleased she was alone, as she definitely needs feeding
Pauper is not your Oliver Twist, she does not have a tiny little voice asking for some more. She has a nasal demanding scream and she does not care if she is cute or what.
Interestingly, both cats and dogs in Koh Chang would not be moved out of people's way. We have a friend who is an artist. His fluffy yard dog sits in our way and we have to virtually climb over him in order to enter the studio. The same thing in Tropicana. All the cats stand on their iron smooth feet and hold on to the ground under them. You move to the side - they quickly follow, squeezing themselves behind your calves and enveloping your ankles. You raise your leg looking for a place to step on - they spin and twirl themselves under your feet just to make sure you keep on jumping and falling over. I think this habit says something about Thai people who obviously do not kick them - ever.
Cats are all over the garden lying on top of every box, step, fountain and bench making live sculptures. I saw Snowflake several times and she was often in a pose unknown to nature. You would think - get yourself comfortable, but no, Snowflakes' legs hang down like another two tails. Cats are very strong animals and can jump five times their length. But do they want to? Not often. They are elegantly lazy.
Tropicana cats' faces are not the same as in London. Their chins are much slimmer and have a cute Katie Holmes look, with a touch of a pouty and sour Victoria Beckam. They look like wild animals, but at the same time have a survival look "I will cheat you and fool you and you will never know". Their eyes are "oriental" and they often have a concentrated gaze
I am not an animal person like Olga, but I recognise the spirit of freedom that cats possess. When I was little, Kipling's cats stories were my favourite. Recently I bought his book of poetry again (against everyone's advice not to have anything to do with this bigot and racist). The slim volume fell in a crack behind our fitted bed at home in Chiang Mai and I will need some wire to retrieve it. Is this the fate agreeing with all the judgemental folk? I am determined to fish the book out and read it though. I read it in Russian and want to hear the English rhytme and taste the Indian flavour. The older I get, the more I appreciate the unity of everything around me, the paws and whiskers, leaves and roots, golden fish and the little statues of cats around the river.