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Wednesday 23 Jan
Chiang Mai, Thailand


No one who knows me will be surprised that, when I heard that some (and by that I mean most) elephant places mistreat their elephants I got upset and then decided that I didn't want to go. Richard wanted to go though, so I researched 'ethical' elephant places. Essentially there are 3. I chose one where they allow you to ride the elephants (one doesn't) because Richard wanted to ride and reserved it. 


Baan Chang elephant park (I think, based on my thorough knowledge of thai that baan Chang means elephant hotel) picked us up at 8:30 am and drove us, with 8 other people to the park. When we got there, they provided us with a change if clothes (because you would not want to stay in your own around the stinky elephants.) The park has over 25 elephants, largely recused from the logging industry, aged from 3 (baby) to 58 (with cataracts). 


We then were handed lots of bananas and sugar cane and were told to feed them to the elephants. A few facts about elephants: they eat 300 lbs of food per day and poop out 100 lbs of it (our guide called it 'giving back'). One elephant was 10 months pregnant (of the 2 year gestation). Also, they do have good memories. Their mahouts (trainers) are with them all day every day and they listen to them, remember them and trust them. 


Anyway, we wandered around the poop from elephant to elephant. We fed them both to their trunks (which have amazing dexterity) and directly into their mouths (which are incredibly weird looking). They knew when you were holding out on them by holding additional food behind your back and would ask for food if you were wandering past them on your way to another elephant. The baby elephant preferred peeled bananas and, if necessary, peeled them himself. 


Once all of the food was gone, we were taught some basic elephant commands (get up/down, forward, left/right, stop) and each took a turn practicing on an elephant. Then it was lunchtime. 


After lunch, it was elephant trek time. Both Richard and I took turns 'driving' our elephants. For the comfort of the elephants, we rode them bareback, soon saddle, etc. the only think you had to hold onto when you were driving was the ears and the top of the elephant's head (elephant hair feels like thick whiskers). Asyou may know, elephants spray themselves with water when they're hot. What you may not know is where that water comes from. Elephants store water in their stomachs. When they are hot, they essentially regurgitate it into their mouths, where they retrieve it with their trunks and spray themselves with it. On a hot day they donit stop using this method of cooling down just because there are people on it heir backs. Our elephant (Tom Mi) was particularly warm.


Next, it was time to bathe the elephants in a pool. As a reminder, elephants poo 100 lbs per day. We were thinking about that as we trudged into the brown mucky water with our buckets and scrub brushes. 

0 Comments for this Travel blog entry

Some stupid Thailand pun

Travel blog by 6weeksineurope


Richard gave me a bad pun to make the title. I forget it - hence the title of this blog. I promise you that his name was silly and you're not missing anything by not having it. Anyway ... welcome to the maybe 6 people interested in our trip.

visitors: 8,914

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Makes a great gift for anytime!