The tiger sniffed my hands, decided he liked the smell and then started to chew.
That is, he decided to chew the chicken I was holding out for him - not my hands.
Although this may sound like I tempted fate, it really was not as dangerous as it sounds.
However, there is something special about offering food to a large carnivore that you know could eat you, but instead decides to take food from your hands, even licking them to make sure it gets every last morsel of chicken.
In this case, the carnivore was a large, but not fully-grown, tiger, one of 88 that live at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
Feeding the cat from my hands was just one aspect of my day spent among the tigers at the temple.
This cat's tongue, to my surprise, was no rougher than the tongues of housecats I've kept as pets, although it's obviously much bigger.
My temple experience is not included with regular admission. However, for an extra fee, visitors may participate in this extended program that includes feeding a tiger cub from a bottle, walking (or rather, being walked by!) a tiger, bathing them, feeding them cooked chicken by hand, playing with some adolescent tigers in a pool and, finally, watching adult tigers engage in play in a larger pool where it's "staff only."
The highlight really does come when we enter a large play area that includes a moat next to the wall separating the tigers from casual visitors, like you would see in any zoo.
Provided with long poles with big, inflated garbage bags tied to the end, we use them as you might use a piece of string to play with a housecat. Except with these cats, you really need to pay attention all the time - and it's usually a good idea to let the tiger win the ensuing tug-of-war, once its claws grab one of the bags.
The tigers here are not exactly wild, but not exactly tame either. Tiger Temple began with the saving of two young Indo-Chinese tiger cubs from starvation after poachers shot their mother.
Someone brought them to the monastery and the monks began to care for them.
Before long, more cubs were brought to the temple and soon it became a sanctuary - and then a tourist attraction.
As the sanctuary's tiger population grew, so did its popularity - and its critics.
Because this approach differs from standard Western practices of animal conservation or welfare, there are critics of the temple's approach to keeping these endangered animals in what is essentially a zoo.
Dr. Somchai, the head veterinarian at the Tiger Temple, admits the situation is far from a perfect solution. Would he not rather see these tigers in the wild?
"Yes, I would," he states, emphatically.
But then he raises the pertinent question, "Where would they live?"
There is not enough forest cover in Thailand to provide food and habitat for the 88 tigers that live at the temple. Dr. Somchai speculates if these tigers were rehabilitated and released into the wild, they would probably be shot.
Unless humans change our ways, eventually there may not be any more wild tigers, anywhere. Even now, there are more tigers in captivity than those living in the wild.
That's an argument in favour of facilities like Tiger Temple.
And once you've spent a day with these animals, looked into their eyes, stroked their fur, held them in your arms and bottle-fed them, once you've had a much more poignant experience than the average tourist, you realize how precious their lives are, wherever they live.
Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate.