Friday, 14 October 2016

Sunshine for Elephants

Sorry for the lack of an update, we just moved into our new little nest and have been without wifi.

However, without further adieu I give you...Sunshine for Elephants.

So, here we are back in the forest trekking alongside these incredible creatures...

When planning to come to Thailand, we really did our research to ensure that when visiting the elephants, we would be able to have the most amazing experience, knowing they were in a safe environment that was cruelty free.

With this in mind, and after reading quite literally hundreds of reviews, it was clear that the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai was the one for us.

The great thing about booking with the ENP is that you can select the trip that suits you best. For us, the Sunshine for Elephants programme was the perfect fit.

Sunshine for Elephants has more of a focus on conservation for animals by creating the most natural environment for them to live in, which closely mimics the wild.

As the saying goes 'the eyes are the window to the soul'. Thai people believe you should always look the elephants in the eye. By letting them see you, you can really connect and share that special bond.

We were curious to know why all the trees were marked with orange fabric and I have to say, I was very impressed with the answer.

This fabric is from the robes of Thai monks. To protect the elephant's environment and to protect the forest, the trees are marked with these ties which Thai people believe creates holy ground. They believe that once a tree is marked with this fabric, it is sacred and if you cut it down you will forever have bad karma. The Thai people are firm believers in karma and ain't no body got time to mess with that!

We continued our trek, happily chatting amongst ourselves and with our guide A, enjoying every moment with our new friends plodding alongside us.

The forrest was dense and thick with heat, with insects flying in every direction, yet utterly stunning all the same!

Here's a fun fact! The healthier the elephant, the more wrinkly and saggy it's skin will be... Oh if only it meant the same for us humans!

There is nothing more incredible than being up close and personal with these gentle giants. They were so affectionate, curious and cheeky. Each with their own personality and quirks which makes them even more memorable.

Soon the elephants had wandered off in search of lunch, and that was perfect for us as we stumbled upon ours also.

In a clearing in the woods, we came across a makeshift lunch spot with local Thai people creating us a delicious Thai feast!

We even got to try our hand at making some Thai food too!

We made a spicy papaya salad under the watchful eye of A.

It was absolutely delicious! Sweet, sour, spicy, fresh... just incredible!

We had the most amazing spread put on for us which was perfect as we had very rumbly bellies after all that walking in the heat.

We were even treated to mango sticky rice again, which Sammi and I certainly couldn't say no to!

Soon it was bath time, however two of our new friends had decided that food was more important... so we made the most of helping this beauty cool off in the river.

Our group were taken off to slide down a waterfall, however I was a little poorly so I was tasked with helping walk the elephants down the mountain. I have never been so happy to have stomach issues!

With the downpour of monsoon season, mixed with muddy elephant kisses and my sexy made for an interesting selfie!

Once the rest of the group had met me back at base camp, it was time to say our heartfelt goodbyes to the elephants before making one last stop at the main sanctuary.

We were in search of a very special little chap, who was a new addition to the park.

The park was simply breathtaking... an elephant paradise where they were free to roam and enjoy.

The ENP is a sanctuary where poorly, abused, and traumatised elephants come to meet other elephants who come from similar backgrounds. They bond, and create their own special herds, where they learn to live and love one another, as they would if they were in their family herds in the wild.

After wandering around the park it was time to be introduced to a very special herd, where family is everything.

From Great Grandmother, mother, cousin, adopted siblings and more  - these ladies all take turns in helping raise and babysit little Dok Rak. When a baby comes into the herd, mothering instincts kick in hard and everyone wants to help!

Little Dok Rak was only 3 months old when we met him and he was born in the sanctuary. Here he will thrive among the herd, in the safety of the sanctuary, protected from the cruelty and elephant slavery that is sadly still prevalent in Thailand today. Dok Rak is a symbol of hope for the Nature Park, that these elephants really can get a second chance at life. They can create new families where love, friendship and happiness can blossom.

The elephants also live in harmony alongside the caretakers who truly love these animals and treat them like family which is simply heart warming.

Not only is the Elephant Nature Park for elephants - they also home many stray, abandoned cats and dogs. They have an adoption programme where you can rescue these furry friends and give them a new home on the other side of the globe!

I simply cannot recommend this place enough! Second chances are the heart of everything the sanctuary stands for, and without the support of people who want to help save these magnificent creatures, they would not be able to continue the incredible work they do.

If you ever have the chance to visit this magical place, please take the time to educate yourself and donate your money towards experiencing something that will change your life.

One last Thailand post to come, all about Island life...

Cat Xx


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