Elephant Nature Park. (www.elephantnaturefoundation.org)
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 6 of 35 › view all entries
Today we are going to a elephant parc. We don't know precise what to expect, but it's an foundation for elephants who now are protected from abuse and ignorance during their working lives. Some of them have suffered terrible injuries. Well it sounds not to positive, but from stories of other travellers who have been there, it must be a livetime experience.
So, we step in a mini bus with 11 other tourists who want to see an elephant, but don't want so see a elephant show or trekking. At first we go to the morning fresh market in Chiang Mai to buy for 15.000 baht of watermelons and bananas. We all help the load the 2 trucks with the watermelons and bananas.
It's great to see the elephants just walking around in a very beautifull surrounding and their are so many of them. They got a mahout (like a shepherd) who is always nearby the elephant, but they walk freely without any chain through the parc. From upclose the are enormes. But they look friendly and peacefull with treir tiny eyes. In total their are 31 elephants, 3 of them are still baby's.
We are welcomed by an english girl who is one of the volunteers of the parc.
Around 12 o clock in the afternoon, we all hat to pick an elephant to give them their afternoon snack. I choose Thai. She is an 61 year old lady. This is her story: Thai’s life of exploitation started early. At the tender age of three, she was taken from her mother and sold to a traveling circus.
At the age of 12, Thai was not a cute little baby elephant anymore. She was no longer a big money-maker in the circus act and was sold. The details of an elephant’s life can be vague, and not a lot is known about this period of her life, but most likely she would have started training for a career of logging.
Thai’s life took a positive turn when she was taken to the Surin Elephant Round-up in November 2002 to be sold once again. This was when Lek, along with Chas and Rachel, first discovered her. Thai came to Elephant Nature Park already in her 50’s, but never knowing a life free from work.
She is so sweet. Taking all the time in the world to eat her basket of fruits empty. Ofcource I have to give it to her. She eats an whole racame of bananas in ones. WOW! Talking about a big appetite! After almost an hour she was finished, leaving me behind with slimy and dirty hands. But it was worth it. After that I washed my hands, we were getting a big Thai lunch. It was a buffet. It tasted very good and the veriety of the dishes was fine.
Around 2 o clock we went together with the elephants to the lake that is streaming through the parc. It's so nice to see how the elephants enjoying there bath. We were allowed to help them bathing.
Around 3 o clock they show us a film about how the foundation was started and how the Thai make an elephant tame. That last part is the most sick piece of abusing I ever seen on film. It's a tradition in thailand to do it that way, but it's a way I never want to see for real. It's dreadful to watch it. Let I put it in other words, I really got sick of seeing it.
At 5 o clock we went back to Chiang Mai, leaving the elephants and mostly good memory's behind. It was a great experience, except the movie than. For sure, next time I go back to Thailand I will visit the parc again, maybe even as volunteer for more days.