Lampang and the Elephant Refuge

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lampang is a northern province of Thailand and is located in the broad river valley of the Wang River, surrounded by mountain chains. The location is quite layback and is known for being the only town in Thailand still using horse drawn carts. It's not overrun by tourists and there are some good restaurants alongside the river. We stayed at the Riverside Guesthouse which is nice and has a terrace area overlooking the river.

The following day we travelled by songthaew to the elephant conservation centre. This is a great experience and a must see for anyone travelling through the region. Highlights include watching elephants bath in the river, the elephant parade and taking an elephant ride through the jungle. Though the highlight is watching the elephant show which features displays of how elephants have assisted in the timber industry through this region by moving and dragging logs, elephants playing music and elephants painting. We concluded our visit to the elephant refuge with a look at the art of elephant poo paper production... yes that's right, they actually make paper out of elephant poo. The poo is added to water along with colour then placed on screens to dry. The paper is then turned into stationary items and gifts which are sold in the sanctuary's shop with the proceeds aiding the elephants. I purchased a couple items for my two nieces who were naturally in wraps over the fact that the paper had originated from the digestive tract of an elephant.

After lunch we continued on to visit the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital. The hospital was formed in 1993 to provide medical assistance to Thai elephants, both domesticated and wild. The foundation also helps domesticated elephants by assisting in the upgrade of their living conditions. Another significant threat to the safety of elephants is the land mines which line the Thai Burmese border. The hospital has assisted a number of elephants who have wandered over the border and stepped on mines. As soon as forests are destroyed, the number of animals dwelling in natural forests alarmingly declines and larger creatures, namely elephants, are placed in serious danger. As a result of loss of habitat and poaching there are now only 2,000 elephants in the wild and 2,000 elephants living in captivity in Thailand. The elephant is Thailand's symbol and Friends of the Asian Elephant endeavours to assist this remarkable animal. On the way to our accommodation at Aoi's Homestay, which lies in the hills surrounding Chang Mai, we stopped at San Kamphaeng hot springs which feature a hot pool and are set amongst tropical gardens and are a pretty relaxing spot to spend the afternoon.
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