Walking the elephants out of the forest (where they spend the night)
Up at the normal time of 6am this morning to join the elephant volunteers for their walk to retrieve the elephants from the forest. It was a beautiful time of the morning to be out, and away from the sound of the calling gibbons, the forest was so serene and so peaceful, with just the dawn chorus of the birds instead, that are usually drowned out! We sat and waited for a while for the Mahout family to retrieve each of the 5, and watching them lumber out from the canopy was such a beautiful sight. The trees we walked back through were almost autumny with their red leaves, and the early-morning gleam of sunshine through the trees cast a gentle orange glow on the elephants. Having had a brief encounter with them at the elephant kitchen, as I stood at head height with them on my own marvelling at the size of their heads as they stood before me (waiting for something to eat it turned out), I was a little intimidated by their size and stayed out of the way as much as possible (or at least with another person between me and them at all times) but on a couple of occasions I strayed close to them and they started to approach me, mistaking my camera for a mango, at which point I squeaked and hid behind someone!
After breakfast with the rest of the volunteers I went back to bed for 3 hours and woke up just before lunch so I went to join them for a snack.
Elephant walk at sunrise
We have a volunteer organisation observer with us at the moment and she wanted to see the temple whose grounds the centre sits on. The temple is significant in Thailand because it has a 'Buddha Footprint' so is more sacred than other places. We wandered up to the footprint and looked back down on the grounds, then around to the giant Gold Reclining Buddha and then to the main Tample. We also mistakenly wandered into what we think was the monks' quarters and got chased out by an aggressive soy dog.
I spent a while at the internet cafe before meeting the others coming down to the village night market, We wandered around, bought a few more bits and pieces and got back in time for dinner. I had a mysterious headache (bad timing) so got an early night.