Day 9 - Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park (ENP)
Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
120Trip End Sep 09, 2013
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Another early start as we were due to be collected at 8am. 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 8am 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
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 are taking the food. Si said that feeding was continuous, and that they consume about one and a half tons of food a day, 10% 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
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
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 17:30hrs 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.
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!