At the Elephant Nature Park, we couldn’t get wireless and that is why I haven’t updated my blogs. My apologies. Still, I wrote some stuff down and it is not updated fully, but here’s what I have so far.
Day 1 at the Elephant Nature Park:
I am writing my blog posts on my laptop so I can post this when I go back to Bangkok and have wireless. We took the van from Chiang Mai to the Elephant Nature Park this morning, and it probably took us around an hour drive to get here. My first impression was, “I don’t even know what we will be doing here and we are stuck here for 6 days! ” But after spending a whole day here and after going through the orientation, I am excited for the next 5 days.
We started working right when we got there. We thought we were getting a tour, but the people needed help, so we jumped right in. The first task was to make banana balls, and it consists of mashed bananas, corn flour, flour and rice flour. Around the corner, few guys and I helped Susan peel bananas and mash them for making of the banana balls.
Our group leader, Jack ,showed us the elephants and the next second we were feeding them! In order to feed the elephants, we have to hold the fruit, while standing on either side of the elephants, and wait for them to take the fruit from us with their trunks. It is quite fascinating, watching them grab fruit with their trunks, or balance the cucumbers on the inside of their trunks while they chew the fruits that they have in their mouth.
The next step is bathing the elephants. There is a river right by the land, the elephants walk in and the volunteers throw buckets of water onto their bodies. Our first elephant baths turned into a water fight between our group. I didn’t mind getting splashed, until I realized the elephants were pooping in the river during their baths. Ade and David bought Crocs at the airport, and they were putting them to good use. I went into the lake barefoot because I was wearing sneakers the whole day.
Lunch was pretty good, it was buffet style and they had lots of food options, I thought to myself, finally, we are getting some real Thai food! The food was awesome, and for the rest of the day we had some free time, fed the elephants again, then there was a welcome ceremony done by the people from the village next to the Elephant park. The ceremony was interesting, filled with prayers, some rituals and there old ladies gave everyone white bracelets. It was pretty cool. Then we had dinner, and now its bed time, I am upset that I can’t upload anything for 6 days. But I like not having internet and being away from technology.
Everything seems pretty chill here. I met some interesting people today. This one lady is from Australia and she’s been here for 7 years. Now she is a master at cutting fruits with really sharp knife. The other thing that I noticed is that there are lots of people from around the world. Mostly they are from UK and Australia and I love their accents!
Anyways, goodnight everyone.
February 28, 2011
Day 2 at the Elephant Nature Park:
It’s currently 6:08 PM right now, and work has ended. Today, we went to the corn field to chop off the stocks for to feed the elephants. It was about an hour drive to the corn fields, and we worked for about 2 hours. We picked up 300 bundles in the end, and had to sit on top of the corn stocks on our way back! The truck ride back was very exciting.
I didn’t take any pictures today, because I was very tired today. The truth is, I didn’t even take my camera out of my room. I wanted a day off from photography duty. of course, the moment we stepped off the elephant nature park to go to the corn fields, I regretted that decision.
Anyway, when we came back, we had lunch and bathed the elephants. I don’t know why, but I was very tired today, so I did not participate too much in the water fights or anything extra.
March 1, 2011
Day 3 at the Elephant Nature Park:
“Call us Westtown Firefighters!”
It is only the 3rd day here at the Elephant Nature Park, and we are already having so much fun. As we are enjoying the beautiful scenery and presence of the elephants and dogs, we ran into an unexpected accident today.
The day started out pretty normal, we shoveled elephant poop and drained the mud pits that elephants use, and of course, we had a mud fight. It was pretty fun actually, Alex did tackle me into the mud. But it was fun overall.
After lunch, we had a chance to look at the elephants up close, and we got to see the baby elephants. They were so small compared to the big ones. At one point, one of the baby elephants started to wander off, and the whole herd followed it after.
We were coming back from watching the elephants, and Jack, our group leader, gets a phone call. He told us that the nature park’s property was on fire and that we had to go put it out. We ran to the mountain at the end of the park. and grabbed a bucket and started running up the mountain. I did not get to see the real fire that took forever to put out, so I didn’t get to take pictures because I was busy running up and down passing buckets full of water. But I saw the other fires that started up as we were done with one big one. It was very intense. I broke my flip-flop at one point, but I fixed it.
Everyone’s legs were cut from all the shrubs and had ashes all over because of the burnt trees. We were very dehydrated and sweating from the fire, but we felt very accomplished afterwards. We saved the mountain!
People went tubing down the river afterwards, but I was very tired and didn’t feel like it, so I waited for them to come down the stream and snapped some pictures. Sam, this british guy started throwing elephant poop at the boys. It was pretty funny.
March 2nd 2011
Day 4 at the Elephant Nature Park
This morning, just like the first day, we made elephant food.We mashed bananas and mixed them with rice flour and corn flour to make banana balls. Then people who did not do the mud pit yesterday went to do that, while Alex Emily and I carried the watermelons off the truck. Later on, the truck filled with pumpkins came, so we had to unload that.
Our official afternoon job was moving the mud bricks that will be used to build more buildings. At first, they were expecting us to carry one by one to the hut which was far away, but we got a tractor and divided into 2 groups loading and unloading the bricks. We were very efficient and I think that allowed us to go tubing the longer stream this time. The water got pretty cold as we were done, but it was fun for the most part. The current was a little unpredictable so at one point, I was ahead of everyone, but later it took me nearly 20 minutes to finally catch up to everyone.
After the dinner, I played Yahtzee with 2 girls from Holland with Amadou and David. Their names are Valerie and Anouk. They seem very chill and cool. Tomorrow we are going to Elephant Haven. I am pretty excited. Good night for now!
March 3rd 2011
P.S. pictures will come later!