Monday marked the annual Cobra Gold exercises, Asia's largest multi-national military drills – where jungle survival training for foreign soldiers was led by the Thai marines; and this year, things tended to get a little bizarre as soldiers had to drink snake blood from the mouth of a cobra.
The Cobra Gold had started as a bilateral drill between the US and Thailand and the 37th iteration of the exercise – like its past editions, comprised of three primary events: a staff exercise, a field training exercise, and humanitarian civic assistance projects in Thai communities.
This year, the US marines were also joined by South Korean soldiers and they were taught to find various sources of water and food, within a tropical forest. And this food and water's prospects ranged from animal's blood to water inside their veins.
But things took an especially stomach-churning turn when the soldiers had to drink the snake blood – that too, straight from the cobra's mouth!
As Mirror.uk reported, one of the marines found a striking similarity between the taste of cobra-blood and fish. "Fishy. Tastes like fish. It's interesting," said the marine from the Okinawa base.
This year's solid strength of 6,800 marines – nearly double the size of the 2017 Cobra Gold exercises – were also taught how to safely eat scorpions, spiders, gibbons and a civet.
As per the instructors, the purpose of these exercises is to help the soldiers survive in extreme, emergency situations. "The key to survival is knowing what to eat," said Thai Marine Sgt Maj Chaiwat Ladsin. He led the drill and also oversaw the marines take bites off a raw gecko, as Bangkok Post reported.
"Definitely my first time drinking snake blood. It's not something we do too often in America," US Sgt Christopher Fiffie shared with Bangkok Post after the training. "I think I'll be able to hold my own out there. The biggest take was how exactly they get their water as well as the vegetation that you can eat."
The marines were also taught how to remove venoms from scorpions and tarantulas before eating them – as well as strip waters off the veins of animals. Identifying edible plants was also a part of their drill.
It was remarkable how the biggest US force in years joined Thailand's annual drill, despite controversies over Thai junta's invitation to Myanmar army, as they have been accused of ethnic cleansing.