The Elephant Valley


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Asia » Cambodia » East » Mondulkiri
February 26th 2011
Published: February 28th 2011
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Dirt bathDirt bathDirt bath

Onion covering herself in dirt to keep off the sun and the bugs.
Ever wanted to get up close and personal with an elephant? Then this, ladies and gentlemen, is your golden opportunity. For the meager sum of $50 (or $25 if you're prepared to work in the afternoon rather than ele watch - I did not chose this option, my excuse being lack of food to provide energy for working in the blazing sun. Ahem, it may be weak but it's all I have) you can spend the day at the The Elephant Valley Project and do just that.

The project rescues mistreated elephants and lets them live in elephant heaven (quite literally as it turned out) for the rest of their days. A very worth while effort I'm sure you'll agree. Upon arrival we joined up with some of the long term volunteers and headed out to Heaven (see, I told you it was literal) to spend time with Onion and Merlot, we saw Bob from a distance but he is in must and dangerous so we could not go near him. Instead we spent the morning feeding bananas (or in my case corn cobs - no one had advised I bring bananas so a quick stop on the way where
Trying to appease MerlotTrying to appease MerlotTrying to appease Merlot

Onion had eaten all the food, Merlot was not impressed by our make do and mend effort
the owner got me a bargain price on the corn. Thank you. Warning though, corn is pretty heavy and it's a fair old trek up and down hill to heaven, I'd stick with bananas if I were you, they weigh less.) to Onion. Merlot was washing and unfortunately most of the food had gone by the time she arrived, she did not linger long once she realised this.

Onion was great though, and very posey for the camera. Once the food was all gone her trunk kept snaking out, poking at my bag, looking for more. Wished I'd helicoptered a load in, but I hadn't. We got to gently stroke her (softer than I expected) and she was ever so patient with us all, even ensured she sprayed dirt at the side at which no one was stood.

When it became apparent no further food would be forth coming she wandered off in search of her own. We followed and watched as she bashed roots around (shaking off the dirt) before munching away on them, she also bashed branches around too, this apparently is to get rid of any bugs. When she got itchy she broke off an old bit of wood and used it to scratch herself. Amazing how dexterous they are with htose trunks opf theirs. An amazing morning.

Hard (for me, probably easy for every9one else) trek back up the hill and back to the house for lunch (which was incredible). Then an hours rest or so (essential for the long term volunteers but I would have liked some information on the elephants, how they are mis treated, what can be done to help, how they fit in with the local Pnong life style etc) and then off to watch the four remaining elephants bathe. We saw Easy, Buffy, Danielle (may have got that name wrong) and HappyLucky wallow in the shallows then headed off for a swim in the waterfall. A great day.

As it was Friday everyone piled in to the truck for the journey into town, this meant that 9 of us had to clamber in with the backpacks in the open back. T'was a pretty hairy ride but great fun. My only criticisms are that once the 4 day trippers were joined by the long term volunteers it made a lot of people crowding round one elephant. Also, a
Coffee TreeCoffee TreeCoffee Tree

Has the most sublime aroma, why has no one bottled it?
lot of time was spent relaxing, I'd have prefered to learn something instead. However, a very worthwhile project and well worth a visit.

I found many people tried to put me off going there, seems few locals understand much about the project just that the money stays in house and does not go to the Pnong. At least 4 people tried to book me on their elephant trek instead, when I advised I did not want to ride the elephant as it is cruel they were happy to oblige "OK, you just walk behind" one man cheerfully compromised. Topm arks for trying. There is a huge great sign for the project though so if you encounter the same difficulties it's no hardship to go downa nd book yourself in.

Next day I took a moto to the local waterfall (I did not climb down to the 2nd tier, I am a great woose on this trip, for fear I would never make the climb back up the ladder), coffee plantation and sea forest. We had lunch at the coffee plantation $2.50 for two meals a water and a pepsi... not that is a bargain. The food was delicious too. Found out that coffee grows on trees (how could I not know this?) and the blossom of the coffee tree smells divine, I could easily string a hammock under a couple of these trees and drift into oblivion. The sea forrest was a little underwhelming, it's slash and burn season so most of the view was obscured by smoke. Ah well.

The highlight of the trip was my guide though, alas I have lost his flyer and forget his name, he used to work for the Valley Project and was a mine of information. He now runs his own live with the Elephant experience and I was keen to try it and compare the two days. Alas though it seems tourists want to ride the elephant (I despair) and we could not summon up anyone else for the trip. A minimum of two are needed and so I could not go. If you're ever in this area look him up, he runs the bamboo barbecue restaurant (sign in Khmer only but it's the only building built of bamboo) which, incidentally, provides a fabulous meal. If you go on his elephant experience then please drop me a line on how it was.

Am currently in Phnom Penh, tomorrow I travel to Kampot and finally (hurrah!) I have caught up with myself on this blog. Phew!


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What, you can still see me?What, you can still see me?
What, you can still see me?

Can't a girl get any privacy around here?
Sea forrestSea forrest
Sea forrest

I'll admit, I was expecting something like a mangrove swamp. This was a bit of a disappointment but on a clear day I bet it's stunning.
Bamboo ResterauntBamboo Resteraunt
Bamboo Resteraunt

No menu, you just sit and a barbecue of beef and ver is brought to your table. Fortunately for me the owner cooked mine, so it was sublime.


28th February 2011

The spiders are awful! Did you try them?
1st March 2011

Hmmmm, did I try the spiders? Hell no! I've heard there's a particularly foul brown gunge in the abdomen, I can't help but think it's probably poo. I did buy a couple to bring home for you and Chris though, better have your napkins at the ready....

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