Elephants of Thailand

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Before coming to Thailand Oct-Dec 2009 I had only seen Elephants at a distance. When considering things to do I knew I wanted to be involved doing something that included spending time with these animals. It was not until I got to Chiang Mai, Thailand as I spoke with all kinds of people and learned more about the Elephants in each encounter or related conversation.

When I did the river rafting trip I did see a few on the road but still from a distance but it still was pretty cool to see. My first encounter was with the "Mr. Whiskey" tour (previous review). The tour took us to a variety of aspects of the region and a ride on a elephant was one. We stopped at this small spot on the side of the road.
I did like to see the baby elephants. Got into a basket on top of the elephant with a mahoot. The ride was in some brush for about one hour with a stop at several huts along the way where they encourage you to buy bananas to feed the animals. I was with a lady mahoot (unusual) who was half Japanese. She was really cool and spoke English well explaining many things to me. I did not like that this guy who was riding along with us on another elephant was using a slingshot shooting them. That disturbed me but they justified it saying it was okay....yeah right! All in all it was a good experience, especially as an introduction.

I was intrigued while reflecting on that experience and wanted to experience more close up. Many people explained to me the way that some Thai market the elephants towards tourist and others genuinely care for the majestic creatures.
Some believe that it is cruel for us to even ride them. I don't know about that. I wanted to learn more and in my search I found Patera Elephant Farm (previous review). What a nice day. I got involved with a program called "Elephant Owner for a Day" and can tell that they care about the Elephants very much.

They took the time to provide us with some history and education on the care of these magnificent animals. We learned how to approached, feed and in time bathe them at the nearby river. That was a really cool experience (I have a few video clips and once I figure the youtube I'll attach it here). I learned several ways of riding the elephant. We rode to a nice waterfall where we swam with them. There was a delicious Thai style buffet afterward feeding the elephants the banana leaves.
I connected deeply with "Malupuck" and by the end of the day I shed a few tears! I believe and support this farm.

I left Patera Farms with a little of my heart and I took a little bit of theirs with me. About a week later I went to the Chiang Mai Zoo with some ladies from massage school. I enjoyed spending time with them however there was a disturbing part for me. At the entrance this guy had a baby elephant doing tricks for the visitors. With what I learn at the farm one of the things I notice is how dry the young elephants nails were. This elephant was not healthy. The audience clapped but perhaps I would have too if I did not have that Majestic experience.

During the rest of my time in Chiang Mai I had heard of an organization called the Elephant Nature Park by several people and saw a wonderful photo album of someone connected. Very nice. You can just go visit or volunteer (at a price but I think it is worth it) where you spend a minimum of 2 weeks caring for the Elephants. Included are accommodations and meals. On my next trip I would like to do this.
magnificent says:
There are lots of outfits in Thailand that does what you are saying. Sometimes it is the company or it is freelance especially in the villages. If it is legit it will say so on the internet or brochures.
Posted on: Apr 10, 2010
magnificent says:
I did many things in Chiang Mai (as you can read on my blog) but this was the single most moving experience that I had. It was more that worth it. I did two different elephant things and the first one actually disturb me the way they treated these special animals.
After the first one which was included in a trek I researched and found Patara the cost was higher and was the opportunity of a lifetime (or at least for me). I did this trip late and money was a factor but I did not want to leave Thailand without doing this and besides it was calling me.
I did take photos with my camera but they also take pictures and videos which are included in the cost. This was neat because you are able to be more in the moment. Truly a do not pass up experience.
Will be happy to answer any more of your questions and share with you.
Posted on: Apr 10, 2010
m_mspr says:
This looks amazing!! I really want to do this when I go to Thailand this summer! Was it worth it? How was it with pictures? Could you use your own camera, or did you have to pay extra for them to take pictures of you?
Posted on: Apr 09, 2010
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