Why I didn’t swim with sharks, pet tigers, or ride elephants

Down in Busan, a southeastern city in Korea, there’s an aquarium that lets visitors have the chance to swim with sharks in this giant pool. Sounds like a pretty cool experience. I almost planned to try it out when I visited the city, but I decided against it.

Before heading to Thailand, I’d heard a lot about an exhibit up in Chang Mai that offered visitors a chance to enter a cage with tigers and pet them. Same thing as the sharks, I’m guessing. They probably feed them really well, or just drug them up – who knows? Again, sounds cool, the petting part, not the drugs. I almost planned to try it too, but I decided against it.

Lastly, in a bunch of places – Ayutthaya, Chang Mai, places in Laos, Siem Reap, and of course Koh Chang, they sell elephant rides, treks through temple grounds or jungles or wherever. Of all these animal experiences, this one actually sounded like the coolest one to me, probably just because I have a thing for elephants. In most of the cities I visited that offered these kinds of tours, I planned to try it out. But in each of the cities, again and again, I decided against it.

Why? Why turn down these new experiences? I’m all about new stuff, right, especially stuff like this that seems sort of once-in-a-lifetime?

When it came down to it, I came up with one main reason. I didn’t try any of these because in each case, I felt like I was about to do them more because other people thought they were cool than because I particularly did.

It’s weird – I’ll go out of my way to each some strange new food – that really excites me for some reason. Animal adventures don’t grab me the same way, though, for some reason. Doing them, to me, felt like something I would be doing for other people, so other people could hear about my experiences and be impressed or whatever.

That’s not really a reason I want to do things. So in each of these cases anyway, I decided against them.

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