What an amazing week!

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March 11th 2007
Published: March 11th 2007
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Here's trouble!Here's trouble!Here's trouble!

'Hope', the first elephant at the park who was rescued before being torture trained show's it in his teenage boy-like trouble-making attitude!
Back in the city - and feels like we've been away for months!
The past week has been unforgettable - well, apart from the 350 photo's and videos of elephants taken! I can't even think where to start, the Elephant Natue Park is set on 40 acres of flat land bordered by rivers and surrounded by towering mountains and small villages. 31 elephants (including 3 little babies!) currently live on the park - all of them saved from certain death from logging, street begging or elephant trekking, having spent a week living with these amazing creatures I now never want to see a captive elephant again! There are 200 street begging elephants and 2500 trekking elephants in thailand, and currently the only way they are trained is by crushing them in a bamboo trap with legs tied to the sides and head tied up to a tree and repeatedly beating them for up to 10 days (normally 7) until they become completely submissive to the humans, and 'mahouts' torturing them. A mahout is a man who's lifetime job is an elephant 'guardian', they train them, feed them, make money from them then leave them to die when they are no longer
Bath Time!Bath Time!Bath Time!

Graham about a milisecond before being hit by my bucket full of water which started a massive water fight! haha good times
of use and find another. The mahouts at the park are different, their job is to make sure they don't trample any tourists (!) and help them gain trust in humans again so that they can enjoy the remainder of their lives in freedom : )
We spent the week mostly learning about the elephant and their human-like qualities, and about the founder 'Lek' who has made it her task to change the face of elephant tourism in thailand, but it's taking a while! We're all very sore though too, as volunteers we had to machete truck loads of banana trees, dig a massive trench in cement like soil, and um, well that was the only hard stuff actually! Other duties involved cleaning over a tonne of fruit and veges daily then hand feeding the elephants, bathing them in the river and cleaning the mud pond! The only way to describe that is by checking out the photos... hehe...
I also helped re-build a roof on a mountainside while balancig on bamboo rods, which would have been fine if the cheeky mahout Dichiao wasn't tickling my feet from below! Loads of time has been spent teaching the boys english (they
Little Tong Jan!Little Tong Jan!Little Tong Jan!

My foster baby tucking into some watermelon mmm
are all about 20 and refugees from burma and surrounds) and letting them teach us thai - though think i'm gonna check it up in a dictionary before saying it in public because they tend to giggle far too much after making us say something... hmmm!
Other than the park so far we've had an experience on an overnight train with a disco carriage (mirror balls and all!) and been forced to sleep by the train nazi with basic english, "YOU! SLEEP! NOW!" haha we couldn't stop giggling, it was terrible! Which led her to saying "I get the police!" which didn't help our situation... The people on the tour are awesome, there's only 8 plus the leader and we all get on really well, most of us are already planning our next trip to the Elephant Park in the winter when it is all green, we managed to arrive in on e of the few weeks of the year when the countryside is covered in smoke due to the locals preparing for crop planting. I've spent the most ridiculous amount of money, although everything is dirt cheap (this hour of internet is costing 30 cents!) i've bought so much
Play TimePlay TimePlay Time

Too Cute... investigatin the new deeper mud pit thanks to us volunteers before diving in!
it doesn't matter! Including a tailor made suit - not that I need one, but it's tailor made! who know's how I'm gonna fit that in my bag... hehe, along with a few souvenirs from the park's gift shop and a card acknowledging my $60 donation to foster baby Tong Jan for a year! aww I miss them already, they are all so full of personality! Anyway we are all heading out for dinner now in warm Chiang Mai, i've a thai cooking class in the morning followed by a trip to a local orphanage and the famous Night Markets (17 000 stalls! uh oh). We are off on our hilltribe trek after that, hopefully we get to see the locals who's necks are held up by gold rings! who knows... i'll fill you in on all that at a later date, gotta add some photo's now!!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Learing it from the LocalsLearing it from the Locals
Learing it from the Locals

Crazy mahout Mong (or Ling-Kikong as we call him, i.e. cheeky monkey!) teaches me the art of bamboo thatching

Tying a scarf blessed by monks to a tree in the hope that loggers spare it, if not they get bad luck for life!
Big Kiss for mahout!Big Kiss for mahout!
Big Kiss for mahout!

Tong Jan - recently tought the art of smooching can't get enough

i had a big shmacker shaped ring of mud on my cheek after this!!
Ice-cream man!Ice-cream man!
Ice-cream man!

Always drunk - always on time, always with a queue of sweaty workers waitin to have a dance to his little tune! Wicked

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