11th Day Songkhran! Thai New Year! Primates 2 and Other Cages

Cha-am Travel Blog

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Lieke and Laura handling the 20 foot bamboo pole cutter

Lieke and I were on Primates 2 and Other Cages today; it looked like a busy day but I suggested we split up, me doing Other Cages, and her doing Primates 2, and actually by 9am we had all 26 cages cleaned and done. Emma was pleased, but warned us the jobs are meant to be completed in pairs for safety reasons. She knows we know what we're doing though, and there are some cages (Randy's!) we'd never be stupid enough to go in alone.

Because we had some time, Simon roped us into digging up soil for the tree forest re-potting, so we took wheelbarrows down to the new gibbon enclosures and dug soil out from where they have been making the foundations. This was seriously sweaty work, so we were glad when we had enough after 15 minutes to fill the space in the tree centre allocated for the pile.

Emma with water and talc all over for Songkhran
Lieke and I were also set to enrich the Macaque and Gibbon block and it had been suggested to take mango leaves and branches and feed them to the animals, or play with them through the wire so they have to reach and grab for them. We had intended to take branches from the mango trees near the vollie house (volunteer house), but he wanted the trees down here cut back so he equipped us with a 20 foot bamboo pole with a circular saw mechanism at one end manipulated by a pull-cord. This was set to be an amusing spectacle, as even manouvering the giant bendy pole was a task in itself. We managed to cut (pull down) about 5 or 6 branches before the pull-cord came undone and we gratefully returned the 'broken' saw to the tree forest and took the mango branches up to M&G block to play games. Some played, some didn't. Quite often the dominative member of the group would play, but the others wouldn't be 'permitted', or were afraid to play, since the mango leaves also form a tasty snack aside from the play act in getting hold of them. Later when we came past though, we noticed that all the members of the group were still enjoying them, so perhaps when the 'elders' had their fun and got bored, the others felt confident enough to have a go. Primates enriched, job done!

Back at the centre around lunchtime and following religious ceremonies in the morning, various waterfights were now in progress. Thai new year is marked by these water fights and we'd been warned not to bring electricals out all day as you are in constant danger of recieving a surprise soaking/dunking/spraying etc. The volunteer house was absolutely soaked, with Thai staff and volunteers all carrying around buckets, bowls, jugs, bottles and some water guns. The outdoor kitchen got a good clean today! I went down to do one final cage at the hospital and found the vets fighting Emma with water guns. I was changing the baby loris water bowl and threw the clean water down Emma's back as I passed. All 5 people chased after me and cornering me with their guns....till I reached for the hose and chased them round the hospital!

Incidentally, we had a beautiful leopard cat in the hospital. He was pretty aggressive but gorgeous.

Since most of the Thai staff had a day off (or as close to a day off as is possible when 270 animals need to be taken care of) we had to make our own lunch and dinner. I volunteered for lunch duty and after a few dramas (Emma set fire to the pan handle making fries), we managed to get lunch out at the Elephant Kitchen. It definitely helped to have watched my Dad do big meal production lines, and I got a clap for my assistance and relieved of immediate centre duties. Still left to do the washing up though...

Later we had a 'party' for new year down at the Elephant Kitchen too. Emma had been shopping and bought lots of barbecue stuff, cheese bread, crisps, sweets, corn and pasta. Since most of our meals are Thai curries with rice and noodles, it's a rare treat when we get western food. We even had music, which we're not really allowed up at the vollie house due to our proximity to the primates. If people were drinking and voices were raised, we would easily wake up the sleeping primates and once they are awake they will call for an hour in the night...

 

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Lieke and Laura handling the 20 fo…
Lieke and Laura handling the 20 f…
Emma with water and talc all over …
Emma with water and talc all over…
Cha-am
photo by: thelailama