So I'm sitting at a laundramat in Chiang Mai, Thailand doing my laundry for the first time since I've started my travels. Tomorrow we head out on an epic three day journey to get to Laos. It's going to take approximately three buses and two boats for us to cross the border and make to Luang Prabang, Laos. Should be interesting!!
Hera and I are just wrapping up a two week trot through pretty much all of Thailand. We started way down south in Phuket and then took a 14 hour bus ride to Bangkok. Then after one night in Bangkok we took a 17 hour sleeper train to the beautiful northern city of Chiang Mai. It feels like we have done so much. We went snorkeling, laid out by the beach, laid out by a pool, went to a national park, took a cooking class, explored each city we were in by foot, went to a lady boy gogo bar, took a tuk tuk that drove on the other side of the rode (meaning opposite of traffic), and ate the best street food in the world. We have done incredible things and it still feels like our journey is just beginning but what I want to tell you about is what, in my mind, is probably the most amazing thing you could do in Thailand... Visit the Elephant Nature Park here in Chiang Mai.
Hera and I just spent the last two days feeding, walking around with, bathing, and learning more about elephants. This experience is still rocking my world and I really did not want to leave.
As many of you may know, here in Thailand the elephant is worshipped and pretty much put on every and anything that represents Thailand. People here have elephants like they have pet dogs. Literally though, elephants are put under the same category as livestock (ie, cattle). Any harm done to an elephant has minimal consequences. Many elephants are used for shows, riding/trekking through the jungle, begging in the streets, and formally used for logging. Little do most know is that a majority of these elephants are treated so terribly. In order to train these elephants they go through an excrutiating process called "crushing" which is an appropriate name because they literally crush the spirit of the elephant in order to have it listen to its owners.
Okay, I know, blah blah blah right? I could talk about this forever and I'd love to do it in person but I'll cut to the chase.
There is this Elephant Sanctuary that was started up by one woman. She takes on all and every kind of handicapped elephants. We got to play with ones that have broken backs, legs that were blown by land mines while logging, blind, mentally unstable, and really, everything across the board. They were all this way due to mistreatment by their owners in the past.. This place is seriously incredible. It is full of wonderful people and it is a place that is truly filled with compasssion.
I kind of have to cut this short because my time is running out on the computer and my laundry is almost done. But after leaving that sanctuary my heart feels a little more full and I hope that I could return again to spend a little more of an extended period there.
Moral of the story is that you should think twice before mounting an elephant or paying money to the owner to see it do silly tricks.
ahh.. i am so in love with elephants!
I will leave you with some pictures. The first two is actually from Malaysia but the rest is Thailand.
pad see ewe later, crystal