Trip Start Feb 14, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday is Heffalump day – otherwise known as elephant day. We had been looking at all the options to spend time with elephants in this area. You have to be a little careful as some places offer you elephant bathing and elephant riding but to be honest you are not sure how well looked after the elephants are. Also elephants who are ridden and used for trekking have been put through a torturous process of 'training' where they are placed into a cage and beaten, hit with poles with nails on the ends, poles are pushed into their inner ears, they are sat on and beaten for days on end before they become submissive. It is a cultural tradition of the Thai people to train their elephants in this way. Unfortunately it will take some time for the traditions to change, if ever. Elephants need tourism to be able to survive (otherwise the Thai people really do not need them any longer) but the way they are ‘trained’ is horrendous and very few people are trying to change it.

We did find a great place to go that fitted what we wanted. Elephant Nature Park is an elephant sanctuary about 1 hour from Chiang Mai http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/index.htm. It was set up by a Thai lady many years ago and she has been rescuing elephants from logging, villages and towns. It is not possible to ride the elephants (this is a good thing) and they do not perform tricks (again, v. Good). However you can feed them and help bath them with their Mahouts (elephant looker-after).

It was an amazing day. We were able to get really close to some of the elephants, touch them, feed them, play a little with the younger ones, watch them in their groups, and watch them as they played in the river. They are very gentle animals but are really giants. Most of them definitely prefer cucumber over pumpkin. They like to have a good scratch on the wood if they get a chance and they can easily sneak up on you if you are not watching.

In the evening we went to the Riverside bar, after taking a tuk tuk with the biggest sub woofer I have even seen (in a tuk tuk). It was rather embarrassing , if not hilarious to rock up to the bar with the base box booming out some god awful euro trash. Whilst we were supping on our whiskey and cokes we realised that no one else was sitting in the same area we were as the tide was coming in – up to our feet! God help the fans that were bowing in our faces. A health and safety nightmare Not something the locals seemed to worry about.

We then went on to the Reggae bar (yes, every place has one) to drink very sugary mojitos and have a little boogie. Only to come out of the bar and walk straight into an elephant with a flashing red light on its tail being used to make money from tourists. What a bizarre way to end this day.

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