Kissed by an elephant

Trip Start Jan 01, 2011
Trip End Mar 21, 2011

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Today we went to the Elephant Nature Park which is 60 km outside of Chiang Mai, which was about an hour away. The Elephant Nature Park is a bit different of all the other camps in this area. The elephants here do not perform tricks (like painting or playing musical instruments) and do not give rides. Instead, they are free to roam 150 acres and are well cared for. Each elephant has a mahout, which is a handler to be with it to ensure that all is well. All the elephants were previous working elephants (either in logging, farming or tourism) that have been rescued after being poorly treated. Throughout the day, we heard stories of the trials that some of these elephants have been through. For example, one elephant had stepped on a landmine in Cambodia and another had been blinded by its masters when it disobeyed orders in the logging camps, which are now banned in Thailand, but are still common in Burma. The park is also home to 45 stray dogs, a bunch of cats, a bear, water buffalo and ox, which have all been rescued from poor conditions. The dogs in particular seemed to be loving their lives - lots of food and doggy beds everywhere!

The day started with hand feeding the elephants from the platform. The elephants wander the park eating grass, but they get additional food each day (watermelons, squash, bananas which are a favorite and cucumbers). A wooden bell is rung and the elephants come from wherever they were in the park. This was neat as this was our first opportunity to touch the elephants. Turned out that we had lots of opportunities throughout the day. After the elephants had been fed, it was our turn for lunch!

After lunch, we went down to the river to bathe the elephants. The elephants walk into the river and everyone threw buckets of water on them. I swear the elephants were smiling as they were being bombarded by water - they really seemed to enjoy this. Once they had had enough, they would leave the river and then proceed to coat themselves in dirt again, which is their form of sunscreen.

Next, we watched from the platform the naughty boy elephant bath in the river. He is so mischievous, that he has to wear a bell around his neck and typically has two handlers. This was quite the sight. Unlike the other elephants that just walk into the water and wait to be splashed, he was rolling around in the river!

The park has two babies (under two years) as well. In the afternoon, we had a chance to get up close to the girl. As well, we received a kiss from another younger elephant, which was quite slobbery!

We then watched a documentary on the park and its creator, had another opportunity to feed the elephants and to bathe them. Then it was back to town. This definitely has been one of my favourite activities that we have done since we started our trip in September.
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Jaylene on

Ha! You stole my itinerary:) lol It's so fun that we picked the same things to do even though we didn't compare notes! It's like seeing into the future.

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