Chiang Mai, Thailand

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January 16th 2016
Published: February 26th 2016
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Day 4 Saturday - January 16 Morning Blog

A DAY WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR AND DREAMING ABOUT! We got up early and had a nice breakfast. Nok and Poi were there to pick us up at 8:30 for the drive to our private Elephant Life Experience in Mae Taman Valley, the only boutique elephant camp in Thailand. On the way we made a quick stop at a street market and walked around for a few minutes. As we continued down the road, I noticed a sign that said Tiger Kingdom. I asked Nok what it was and she said if we had time on the way back we could stop there. Upon arriving at the main lodge of Elephant Life Experience (ELE), we were greeted by our host, who introduced us to the team and discussed our program. This will be a unique experience, as it’s just us! We then met several of the elephants and were each given a basket full of 10” cut sugar cane stalks to feed our new friends. We had a fun time putting stalks in their trunk, which they put them in their mouth...and crunch. After we played with them for a while and got acquainted, we were each given our Mahout outfits to put on. The Mahout is the elephant keeper and trainer and they become very attached to their elephant. We then received a basic lesson of elephant training techniques including easy commands given to the elephants in a special dialect of the ‘Karen Language’.

Once we were comfortable with that, we met our personal elephants to ride. They got down on their stomach so we could mount them and off we went with our mahout alongside. We rode through the jungle and along the river. We were given another basket of sugar cane to feed them as we rode. They would put their trunk up behind their head and we put a stalk in it and they ate as we went along. Doug had a large female that was pregnant and Annette rode a smaller and younger male. WHAT A BLAST!

After our personal ride, we had some refreshments and off to the art demonstration. They have a couple colorful easels and we are about to see two of the elephants paint pictures for us. Annette had the first artwork painted, a beautiful rose, painted by Chan Khun, a 5-year old male. Then Doug had a lovely tree with leaves painted by Sugarcane, a 4-year old male and Annette got another one, an elephant painted in blue and yellow by Chan Khun. We had a paint palette, put the different colors on the special brushes, placed the brush into the end their trunk, and they did the rest. We were able to keep our fabulous works of art to bring home with the artist of each indicated on the back.

After our art demonstration, we walked over to a raised bamboo platform where we both mounted one of the large elephants with a seat on his back and our mahout took us on another long ride that crossed the river and up the hillside and back. We were in a caravan with several other elephants and their mahouts. Again, another fun experience!

Then we went back to the river and got on a small raft to cross to the other side, where we got into the water and washed and scrubbed the elephants we had just ridden. They would lay down in the water, get on their side and roll over for their back and the other
A school bus!A school bus!A school bus!

We passed it while on our way to the Elephant Life Experience.
side. We each had a scrub brush, lathered them up and rinsed them off with river water in a bamboo basket. We’re not sure who was enjoying it more, the elephants or us. Passers-by on small rafts going down the river were getting a real kick out of our scrub-a-thon. Once we were finished giving them their baths, they had fun giving us a shower with their trunks. We went back to camp and said our goodbyes to our elephant friends…they gave Annette kisses on the cheek with their trunk and Doug got big trunk hugs and lifted off the ground.

We then went up to the main building, showered, put our other clothes back on and went out to the eating area where we sat at a table and enjoyed a lunch that was prepared for us by the Four Seasons Hotel.

Our experience wasn’t quite over yet. After lunch, we said goodbye to the very nice staff, tipped them, and we were off down the river for a 45-minute ride on one of the small bamboo rafts, Nok with us and piloted by one of the mahouts. At the end of our rafting we were met
Local marketLocal marketLocal market

Stopped here on our way to the elephants.
by Poi and on our way back to town.

Join us in the post for our afternoon will be purring.

Additional photos below
Photos: 66, Displayed: 25


Wow...some red meat.Wow...some red meat.
Wow...some red meat.

A vendor is carving up her product for sale.
Black feet chickenBlack feet chicken
Black feet chicken

Oh my...the last time we saw these black feet sticking up was in a soup in Shanghai.

Don't they look tasty?

All sorts.

This is a very stinky fruit when cut into.
Beetles and oh my! YumBeetles and oh my! Yum
Beetles and oh my! Yum

How would you like these for dinner?
Hi there...Hi there...
Hi there...

Annette introduces herself to one of our new friends.
Want some sugarcane?Want some sugarcane?
Want some sugarcane?

Annette offers her new friend a treat.
Here you goHere you go
Here you go

Doug offers a treat to his new friend.
Getting to know you...Getting to know you...
Getting to know you...

Doug's friend gets playful.
Open wideOpen wide
Open wide

Look Doug, no cavities.
Nice to meet you both!Nice to meet you both!
Nice to meet you both!

Doug shakes 2 trunks at a time.
New best friendsNew best friends
New best friends

Getting to know you.
The newest mahoutsThe newest mahouts
The newest mahouts

Doug & Annette showcasing their new outfits.

27th February 2016

Elephant Walk
I definitely need to overcome my fear of horses and heights so maybe, just maybe I can follow in your footsteps someday. Wow! Where are you placing your new artwork?

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