Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park (ENP)

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
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Trip End Jul 23, 2013


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Flag of Thailand  , Chiang Mai,
Friday, February 1, 2013

Another early start as we were due to be collected at 08:00. I had my banana cake (bought the previous night from the Vikiy Sist) and several cups of coffee but Terry, who is trying to curb his appetite, didn't have anything. We took our anti malaria tablets, covered ourselves with Deet and waited in the yard for our transport.

The Elephant Nature Park (ENP) minibus collected us just after 08:00 as scheduled, and we were the second couple on the bus, so we had seats near the front. After a couple more stops around the old city we had our full compliment of 12 people. Although from different parts of the globe again, all communication was in English.

We drove out through the suburbs of the greater city to a greener Chiang Mai. If a picture paints a thousand words; it wasn't difficult to see that Terry was not feeling himself. Whilst everybody else was enjoying the scenery outside, Terry had his head down, leant against the seat in front of him. He said he felt extremely nauseous, and I reminded him that this was probably due to the fact that we are not supposed to take the anti-malaria tablet on an empty stomach......I did wonder at one time whether we might have to disembark, he looked as white as a ghost and his head kept lolling around.

On arrival at the Elephant Nature Park Si, our group leader, provided us with a few ground rules, the funniest ( or perhaps most worrying) being to run if we saw him running!

We started the day by feeding the elephants a few fruit snacks from a basket the size of a laundry basket. Both Terry and I were amazed at how dexterous their trunks are, and how gentle they were taking the food. Si said that feeding was continuous, and that they consume about one and a half tons of food a day, 10 - 25% of their body weight. I can only imagine how great this must feel......

After the feeding Si took us around the park where we walked amongst elephants, who were walking freely around us. First of all he took us to see a baby elephant who's Mother had been rescued on the Burmese border having stood on a land mine. All the elephants, apart from the new baby, have been rescued from various parts of SE Asia, and all have been through various traumas or have experienced abuse of some kind. The baby was born at the park.

After meeting all the elephants and hearing how and why they had been rescued, we were provided with a magnificent vegetarian buffet style lunch and drinks. We took this on an open pavilion where we were able to enjoy views across the plains, where the elephants stood in groups or walked about on their own; it was the most fantastic feeling.

There was a small souvenir shop on site selling bits and pieces and Terry bought a pair of Bermuda shorts and I bought some flip flops.

After lunch we were taken to a room to watch a film about how the Elephant Nature Park had come into being. Before the film started, one of the volunteers hosted a fun quiz, and I won a bag made from Banana leaves. The film was very interesting and informative but also extremely sad. Part of it concentrated on how elephants are 'tamed' by humans to break their spirit and become obedient. In many parts of Thailand and all over SE Asia, elephants are used for begging, to attract tourists to give their owners money. This film was so graphic, I got so upset I had to go out of the room. Terry and I had seen a small elephant being led on a rope along the road yesterday and it made us both extremely sad.

After the film we had the chance to bathe the elephants in the river. This was great fun and you could tell the elephants really enjoyed being pampered; they just kept wandering over freely and stood in the water waiting. When they had had enough they would wander slowly out of the water to dry, and were so accepting of hugs and strokes; it was difficult to leave them.

Before leaving the park we were able to feed the elephants a fruit snack again from the pavilion - it would seem they just can't get enough. At about 17:30 we left the park to be driven home. We both felt that we had made the best choice of park to visit and will definitely be following the success of this venture on a regular basis.

Once back to My Mum Home, we freshened up and took a walk around the old city; once again dropped into the Vikiy Sist bistro. We were warmly welcomed again by the rowdy sister and enjoyed a cake and a bottle of Chang Beer. We took a couple of Banana cakes and a Croissant
away for breakfast the next day.

Terry's footnote...

The story of the elephants demise in SE Asia is very sad but, the survival of these majestic beasts is totally dependant upon ecotourism and sanctuaries like ENP. To get a feel for the elephants plight and the fantastic work these guys are doing at ENP please visit www.elephantnaturefoundation.org

If you ever visit Thailand then be sure to add ENP to you agenda for a truly moving experience it's definitely up there in my top ten best days of my life!
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Comments

Catherine on

I want to live at the elephant park! it looks amazing!!!x

mum on

This is so very sad, I could never be in a place like that it would break my heart, there are so many elephants being slaughtered just for their tusks, some even leave babies to fend best way they can.The best scenerio if you can call it that is , often the other elephants will take care of the baby orphans.

heidi on

very jealous of bathing the elephants!and the glorious weather too!

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