Hello everybody and welcome back!
I know it has been a long time since I posted the last blogpost but I tried to enjoy Thailand to the fullest and took a little break from blogging.
Please do not get me wrong, I love to share my experiences and pictures with you, but sometimes I felt like I had to leave my camera at home and try to enjoy the moment without thinking about pictures, Instagram or even blogging.
Actually, I did not plan to go on a „digital detox“ or something, I took this break intuitively and I do not regret it. Of course I took pictures and texted my family and friends, however I tried to appreciate and enjoy the moment like people did thirty years ago, that time when all this internet, social media stuff was still in early early progress.
Anyway, little update: I spent the last three weeks in wonderful Thailand and headed to Australia yesterday. So, I am a bit behind my blog schedule.
Today I would like to share with you my magical elephant encounter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At first I have to state that I really care about animal rights and we did our best to find a good sanctuary where these beautiful animals are treated appropriately.
I know that some animal lovers out there will say that they would not even go to this kind of a sanctuary, but I could not resist because I have dreamed of meeting elephants since I am three years old. These giants are my favourite animals and seeing them in real life was unbelievable.
We went to a western travel agency in Bangkok who recommended the „Happy Elephant Home“ because the elephants can move freely in a big area, there are no chains, only an „elephant house“ (a roof with eight pillars). There is no elephant riding and no elephant shows. If you plan to go to an elephant sanctuary, it is crucial that they do not provide this kind of activities, since it is bad for the animals. You can book a half-day or a full-day trip at the Happy Elephant Home and it is all about caring for these lovely giants.
The shuttle picked us up around nine in the morning and it was an one hour drive to the sanctuary. A friendly mahout woman welcomed us and told us we would say hello to one of the oldest elephants at first. I was so excited.
The mahout cut bananas for us and we met the first friendly giant who was quite happy to see us, obviously because we had food.
The lady told us that all the elephants in the sanctuary were rescued because they were abused for hard work. You could tell that the first elephant we met used to carry heavy stuff on his back, since he lacked hair at the front part of his back. She also had a blind eye and a disabled leg. However, she was not afraid of us and one could say that she is a picky eater, since she preferred the bananas that we had already pealed.
The Mahout lady also told us that all the elephants in the sanctuary are ladies, since the men are kind of lone wolfs.
After having said hello to the elephants, we went to the wardrobe and got changed and well, we dressed up like actual mahouts which was amazing!
Additionally, they wrote our names in Thai language on our hands.
We spent the morning with three elephants and one two year old baby. We prepared food for them and cut bamboo (I guess it was bamboo) into pieces and put it into our mahout bags. They were able to take pictures with them and later we went to a small lagoon with them where we washed them. Nine happy travelers standing in elephant poo and pee 😀
It was obvious that the elephants loved the people from the sanctuary, they followed them and cuddled them. The baby always tried to „eat“ the mahout lady, since it knew her her whole life.
I was really happy about this, since it is a sign that the animals are well treated in the sanctuary. We returned to the camp for lunch and they let us cook our own Tom Yum Soup. You have to put veggies and rice noodles into a sieve and dunking it into boiling water ten times in a row, put it into a bowl and add vegetable stock with tofu (or chicken) to it. You can add chili or tomato sauce, vinegar and spices afterwards and top your soup with peanut chunks. It was so delicious!!! For desert, we had fresh pineapple!
After we had lunch, we cut some more bamboo and went on a hike with the big giants.
Again, there were no leashes or wooden sticks to make the elephants walk. They probably walked with us because we had food and also because they followed the mahouts. We walked to a river and even had a bath with them!
It was just magical. Lina and I laid down on one of the elephants and they blew water with their trunks. I did not want this moment to end.
There was another elephant sanctuary or park on the other side of the river, but it looked more like a zoo and there were people riding on elephants which made me quite sad. However, I was really happy that we chose the Happy Elephant Home!
All in all, it was an amazing day! Lina and I took pictures with my GoPro and her digital camera, but I did not want to bring my DSLR. There are also many videos which I will be sharing with you as soon as I can.
Additionally, there are no pictures of us at the river, since we decided to enjoy the second part of the day to the fullest, without being distracted by the urge to use our cameras.
We wanted to be aware of what we are doing and to live the moment.
We do not regret it!