Sunday, February 9, 2014

1-4-14 Ellies: The Friendly Giants of Thailand


     The next morning, Jess and I departed from Tong House to go to the Elephant Nature Park. I was jittery already and we were running late (if we wanted to make it to our meeting place on time by walking). While waiting, I took a bunch of pictures of Tong House Resort. :)

The balcony (top left), view of the other resort houses from the balcony (top right),
more resort houses (bottom left), the stairs leading down from our room (bottom right)

The meeting area at the bottom of the stairs (top left)
and two views from the bottom of our resort house :)

The view of the path between all the resort houses.
I loved staying here and I've been lucky to have visited twice since I've been in Thailand!

Tong House Resort

This seems like a nice place to visit to meet up with friends :)

Jess and I actually hailed a red car that drove us to Tesco Lotus.
We proceeded to sit there and waited for them for about 1.5 hours >:(

On the bus, we watched a video (which also made me very carsick) that talked about
many of the elephants. Many of them had been abused by mahouts and people who used
them for logging. I remember two stories most distinctly.

1. People would train baby elephants to beg for money on the streets of Chiang Mai. Because they look so cute, carrying baskets or pails, tourists would pay the elephants. However, as you watched the video, you could hear the cries of distress of the baby elephant. She was shaking, and because elephants figure out where they are with the bottom padded areas of their feet, she was even more so terrified--she could feel the vibrations of people walking and cars driving all around her. If she stopped, the mahout would hit her so she would keep walking around asking for money. :( Even if you feel bad, try not to support this! :(

2. Jokia, a strong and young elephant, was pregnant. She gave birth while logging (carrying logs up high hills) and her baby fell. Because she was unable to rescue her baby, the baby died, so she was to heartbroken to continue working. The mahout, angry that she wasn't working, shot her in the eye with a slingshot until that eye went blind.
     One day, she was very angry at the mahout for forcing her to work, so she swiped him with her trunk. In turn, he stabbed her other eye, so she was blind in both eyes. He tried to sell her to the Elephant Nature Park and when the owner asked him why she was blind, he kept telling her he didn't know, so she refused. She found this out one day when he admitted the truth.

We finally made it! The park is beautiful :)
Awww a herd of a family!

Our first stop on the tour were these two adults and a baby.

The baby was the one that had knocked down the gate! 
Here he is, returning to the scene of the crime, to play with the pole.

We walked to two elephants and followed them. :)

Afterward, we fed them. You just had to place it near their trunks and
they'd scoop it up! This was one of the elephants that we had been walking with.

Every day, all the elephants eat a crazy amount of local fruits.
This was just one part of the storage area... also, there were actual
workers who had to open all of them for the animals!

This elephant is a sweetie! Although her hip is broken,
she is still the sweetest angel of an elephant. :)

Here I am, standing beside her :)

She let me pet her while she was eating. 
I was probably disturbing her--if someone
pet me while I was eating, I'd be like >:

The elephants had to be distracted so we could bathe them. They had floating
baskets full of watermelon. Here we are in action!

I gave my camera to our tour guide, so the pictures aren't that great. :(

But it's okay :) Because I had forgotten my sandals, I actually am
standing on rocks barefoot. OUCH! Sometimes I feel like I'm just
too spoiled because I could barely move in the water. Painful stuff!
Oh well, it was super fun to be bathing the elephants :)

Remember how I said that our tour guide had our cameras?
Well, this is what happens. This is one of my creepers who
apparently wants me to remember him.

Contrary to what you may believe, I am not wet because of the
elephant or because I clumsily splashed water all over myself.
There were kids on the other side who would fling the water
a little too much, so it would fly over the elephant to me...

After we finished, the elephants (the nerve of them! haha jk) climbed
the rocks on the other side and flung mud on themselves to stay cool.

Our group headed back to catch that wandering family of a herd.
Here's the baby! At one point, they had to shout at me to move
because babies can be a little unpredictable and I accidentally stood
in front of the baby. (Don't worry, it was some time after this photo.)
My stalker is enjoying posing with me, by the way. :(

Scratching his bum! :)

After I went up some stairs and was staring down at these wondrous creatures, this guy
climbed the stairs and stared at me the entire time he was going up. I freaked out and turned
the other way. Seriously, WHAT ARE YOU STARING AT?!

Jess went to the nurse because she was too sick, and meanwhile,
the rest of us went and watched more elephants bathe!

They're scratching at their favorite scratching posts!

A lone elephant in the distance
That one stood there for at least 15 minutes...
I wonder if it was daydreaming about life lol

Ain't she a beaut with her earring? :)

Can't believe I almost forgot to mention that there were
dogs everywhere too! The tour guide warned us against
the ones with red bandanas tied around their necks. Those
were the more aggressive ones. However, this sanctuary
was amazing, saving all those animals :)

At one point, we went to watch three other elephants.
I lost track of which ones, but these were in an enclosed area.
I think they were training a little to basic commands, so it's
easier for vets to examine them and all.
Anyway, we were allowed to pet these, but all they wanted was food...
This elephant was trying to check this lady (one of the caretakers) for food!

Equality for everyone and everything <3:
"The animals of the world 
exist for their own reasons.
They were not made for humans 
any more than black people
were made for white or
women created for men."

Pardon that mini-interruption. Here was a baby
elephant that was trying to break the stick to get
the juice from inside. He got frustrated at one point
and threw it down, trying to step on it. He picked
it up and tried again though. :)

Cooling down with some sand!

Okay, I look grosser than normal in this
selfie, but I love this photo because the
elephant thought I was going to give her
food... so she came toward me. LOL

With the baby! (and the sun in my eyes)

One day, shortly in the future, there will be a pool area for the elephants to
play in and bathe themselves! Awww, maybe I can come back for that :)

Anyway, this was the last day of our trip. The van dropped us off at the terminal after this
fabulous day. Jess and I headed back to Bangkok on an overnight bus and again angrily waited
for taxis that had meters running to drop us off back home. Overall, a great journey and a ton
of fun new experiences. Everything was beautiful in the north and well, let's just say it was very
difficult to ease back to the school's routines after that... haha :)

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