Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Thailand!

As this was our first Christmas away from our families; Joe and I wanted to plan something really special; A- so we didn’t get homesick and B- because we wanted to make some really special memories of our first Christmas in a foreign country. We decided to spend the whole day volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai- and honestly, I can say it was most likely the best day of my life so far (no exaggeration, honest).

Elephant Nature Park is the only sanctuary in Chiang Mai- that I know of, that rescues mistreated and abused animals from other Thai attractions. The whole day is really informative and on the ride to the park you’re shown a heart breaking, eye-opening video on the extent of abuse of elephants in Thailand. There is no such thing as an ethical elephant ride or circus show; they’re cruel, completely against the elephants will and both physically and mentally scar the animals life forever.

In the park there were elephants that were partially or completely blind- from car and street lights in big cities where they are forced to beg for money and from their cruel owners throwing stones in their eyes when they won’t work they way they are wanted to. An elephants foot had been blown off after being forced to hunt for landmines and another elephants foot had been broken when she was 2 years old and with no vet treatment was forced to haul heavy logs up mountains for the next 24 years.

The whole experience was life changing and really rewarding; we fed the elephants their breakfast, bathed them in the nearby river and got to wander around the park interacting with them, showing them that human’s could offer them kindness rather than the years of abuse they’ve encountered at our hands. A single day at the park would set you back 2,500 Baht (approx £55) and it includes an amazing vegetarian buffet lunch. There are opportunities at the park to stay for up to a week; I checked out the itinerary and it looked insanely good.

If you’re looking for an experience with elephants, this is without a doubt the only one you need to consider. You get to really interact with these gentle giants rather than be jostled around on their back (which isn’t harmless for them if that’s what you were thinking, along with the iron chair it adds up to half a tonne of weight they must carry for 12 hours a day with little rest, shelter or water).  This was a once in a lifetime experience for me and has created unforgettable memories. You should all visit this park if you get the chance to, it not only opened my eyes but taught me so much about respect and kindness.

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