Spending the Night with Asian Elephants

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http://www.saveelephant.org/

I recently had the great pleasure of visiting and spending the night at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  I recommend any one going to Thailand visit this park.  Do not go to any other park where they force elephants, tigers, etc to do unnatural things for your entertainment.  Just come to this park and interact with happy rescued elephants.  Information about the park and all of their wonderful animal rescue projects are at the link above.

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By the end of my visit I had gotten very used to feeding elephants.  It’s really very easy, just hold the fruit and the elephant grabs it with their trunk and throws it in their mouth.  If you drop the fruit, just leave it, they’ll pick them up off the ground too.  Fun Fact: Elephants eat 10% of their body weight every day… and they weigh a lot!
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This is the baby elephant Navan at the park.  He’s only 2-3 months old so he spends most of his time nursing, playing, and sleeping.  Cute little guy!
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Mother and Child.  🙂

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At the main house, some of the elephants come right up to the platform where you can feed them fruit over the rail.

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Elephants love to get wet and then get dirty again to stay cool.  Here the mother and baby Navan are getting sprayed and they’re very happy about it.  Navan loves the water!

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Here is an action shot of me splashing the elephants in the river for bath time.  Every day the park does bath time where all the visitors go out in the river and bucket shower the elephants.  Rescue elephants don’t know how to roll in the water themselves, so we have to splash them.  There is one elephant raised at the park named Hope, he’s a 12 year old male and he has a bit of an attitude because he’s a teenager… so when it’s his bath time, everyone gets out of the way and he runs into the water and rolls around.

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After they’re clean, they get dirty again to protect themselves from the sun.  Shortly after taking the picture I got sprayed with mud and a drop landed on my lense.  But I expected just as much.

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My river front hut where I stayed with my friend.  It had 2 twin size beds with mosquito nets and we even let some of the stray cats come sleep with us.

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The park also hosts the second largest dog shelter in Thailand.  A lot of dogs are rescued from the floods when they were abandoned.  Volunteers can also help take care of the dogs as well as the elephants.

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Here I am feeding this elephant bananas.  They love bananas, pumpkins, watermelon, and pineapple.

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Mae Perm is the first elephant rescued by the park.  She’s very old and would not leave me alone till she had my last banana.  She kept following me and huffing and puffing her trunk at me, so I gave in.  Who can resist such a cute face?

DSCN4793I’m not going to go into the evil things the elephants are put through in Asia, because I want this post to be happy and positive.  But as the old saying goes, An elephant never forgets.  And this is true… these are emotional, intelligent, and gentle animals that deserve our compassion.  Please consider visiting this park if you’re ever in the area.  You can bring children of all ages and it’s an experience that no one will ever forget!

My Adventure into Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak is the largest market in Thailand and the largest weekend market in the world.  According to Wikipedia it has 15,000 stores and an average of 200,000 visitors.  The idea of going to the largest market in the world was a bit intimidating.  I was worried I’d get overwhelmed or claustrophobic.

But a nice girl in my hostel named Sophie was going to the market this morning and turns out it’s sort of on the way to the airport I needed to be at later in the day.  So I followed Sophie from Portugal as she showed me how to navigate the sky train.  I had to pack up all my belongings quickly so I could bring my big backpack with us.

We got off at the stop for the market and there were already hoards of people leaving the train station to go to the market.  We followed the crowd and entered the market.  She was on the hunt for a cute new years outfit and I didn’t really want to buy anything, so we split up and set a meeting place and time.

Me and Sophie in the background

Me and Sophie in the background

I watched a guy cut coconuts for drinks for a while.  He kept hollering while he chopped and the Thai people would smile at him.  I mozied around and found a $3 watch so I would know what time it was.  And a couple hours later this watch is full of condensation… not my best purchase.

Get a tattoo in the busy market!

Get a tattoo in the busy market!

I found an area with artists displaying their paintings and stepped into a nice cool little bar to grab a beer.  I was over the push and shove with my backpack in the crowded market.  So I sat back and enjoyed my Singha.

Yummy food at the Market

Yummy food at the Market

Me and my Singha at the cool little bar.

Me and my Singha at the cool little bar.

After my beer I tried to find Sophie, but she never showed up at our spot.  So after 15 minutes, I headed to the street to find a cab or something to take me to the airport.  Luckily the guy at my hostel had written the name of the airport down in Thai for me so I had a little piece of paper to just show the drivers.  I finally found a nice cab driver and I was relieved he had AC in his car.

Now I’m at the airport waiting for my flight to Chiang Mai where I plan to spend time with Diana for new years and she’s going to take me to the Elephant Nature Park and Pai!

First Day in Bangkok

My very good friend Nicole picked me up at 3am and drove me to Dulles for my 6am flight.  I am very lucky to have a friend willing to do that for me!  So I just wanted to give her a quick shout out!  Love you Nicole!

As the plane took off it started to snow and I felt very lucky to be leaving town at that exact moment.  It was the day after Christmas and I was sad to leave my loved ones so quickly but at the same time I was super excited about my first trip to Asia.

Flying Away from the Sunrise

Flying Away from the Sunrise

After 24 hours of traveling, sleeping, eating airplane TV dinners, sleeping, get off the plane, get on another plane… I arrived in Bangkok at midnight.  Cleared customs quickly and found a very nice cab driver who couldn’t read so I had to read him the streets around my hostel on my little map, but we made it.  He walked me to the door which was also very nice.

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Cool rooftop patio of the hostel

I wandered around the common areas of the hostel till 3 am chatting with my boyfriend online and wondering when I would feel sleepy.  But I finally crashed and woke up around 9am ready to go see some historic stuff.

I got directions and a map from my front desk and immediately lost the map he gave me as I was walking down the main drag, but luckily I found the river on my own and hopped a boat to the royal palace.  I met a nice couple from NYC on the boat and we sat together and laughed every time water would splash in our mouths!  Icky!

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I think our boat driver was trying to show us all a good time by driving super fast and splashing us but we were all super scared of getting that water in our mouths.  We were dropped off at the pier by the palace and there was a very busy market with yummy thai food being cooked right there in front of us.

We were staring down a garlicy squid and decided to share one.  The guy put it in a plastic bag and sliced it for us.  We were pleasantly surprised to see the squid was stuffed with pork sausage!  It was very yummy and I noted that I felt like I was on the Travel channel with that bald guy. Haha

Garlic Sausage Stuffed Squid - Delicious!

Garlic Sausage Stuffed Squid – Delicious!

They walked me to the royal palace entrance and we split up because they were going to some other temple.  I pulled on my long sleeve shirt and went inside.  In order to enter the temple you have to cover up out of respect.

Sad Temple Dude

Sad Temple Dude

Me and a Statue

Me and a Statue

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I wandered around baking in the sun staring up at the shiny gold and mirror mosaic temples.  It was very ornate and impressive, but by the end I was all toured out.  I had considered walking to another temple nearby, but decided it was time for rest and I was beginning to get a headache from the sun.

I kept buying lychee water and water and trying to hydrate but the heat was getting to me.  So I hired a boat to take me back towards my hostel.  I had a nice private ride down the river again… this time less scary.  Maybe I was just getting used to it.  I would say, so far my favorite part of Bangkok is speeding up and down the river.

Me a little burnt out on my private boat ride back to my hostel

Me a little burnt out on my private boat ride back to my hostel

Tomorrow I fly to Chiang Mai to visit Diana and go to the Elephant Nature Park!