You can choose the colour, design and size of your t-shirt. Then I waited until everybody in our group was checked in. We were a small group of 15 people from all over the world. We were split into two groups and transferred via mini-busses from the office in Chiang Mai to a Karen village in the mountains. Lunch was served at a local restaurant in the village. After lunch we drove to our camp located a couple of minute outside the village in the back of a pick-up truck. The accommodation is jokingly called Hotel California.
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I shared a room with four other ladies. We met the three awesome guys that took care of us for the week: Dan, Non and Yo. And Pad Thai, the resident cat at the camp. Later that afternoon, we met the elephants! Four elephants, three females and one male, belong to the Karen people in the village. Mai Yui is 30 years old and mother to 5 year old Mai Boi.
Mai Boi was taken away from her mother at a very young age, but after both of them were rescued, they were reunited again and now they are practically inseparable. Mai Boon Swi is 32 years old and at the time of my visit, she was pregnant. All four elephants were rescued from the illegal logging or tourism industries.
Mai Yui was rescued from the illegal logging industry. At the time of her rescue, she was unable to bend her ankles. Mai Boi, her daughter, was rescued from the circus. Mai Boon Swi was rescued from the trekking industry, and when she arrived at the village she had an enormous infection on her back.
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Each elephant is cared for by a mahout, a person who stays with the elephant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After our elephant introduction, we enjoyed a delicious dinner, freshly prepared for us. Potato and tofu soup, a main course with rice and vegetables and fruit for dessert.
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Our dinners were always three courses and we always had fresh fruit with every meal. After Yo made us honey and lemon tea, I went to bed and almost fell asleep immediately, exhausted after an exciting but long day. Today was the highlight of my week. We spent the whole day in the forest walking alongside the elephants!
Our trek started after a tasty breakfast. We walked through farm fields and rice patties to reach the forest. We reached the elephants within an hour of hiking. We followed them closely as they moved through the forest, adjusting to their pace.
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When they moved, we moved. They are constantly swatting mosquitos and flies away and covering their bodies, particularly their backs, with mud. Mud serves as a natural mosquito repellent! Because of the bond between mother and daughter, Mai Boi and Mai Yui kept close together. After spending a couple of hours with the elephants, we trekked back to camp. We followed the same routine every afternoon: Going into the Karen village to spend time with the kids. We learned about Karen culture and in turn the children improved their English langue skills by talking to us. For dinner we had cucumber soup, sweet and sour veggies and spring rolls.
We also had birthday cake! After breakfast, we drove into the village to cut grass for the elephants. The grass grows next to the roads on the outskirts of the village. In the afternoon, the elephants came to the camp.
They loved the grass! The grass made the elephants thirsty, which led to the coolest thing! Three elephants simultaneously trying to drink water from one tap. It was the battle of the trunks!
After the elephants left, we went to the village again to spend some time with the children. Dinner was pumpkin soup with tofu, baked potato with butter, cabbage and rice.
And fresh fruit for dessert. Before going to bed tonight, we played a couple of card games. It was so much fun! What makes Elephant Nature Park such a great organization, is its holistic approach to Asian Elephant conservation. Challenge your thinking, find clarity, and form new habits with a day alcohol-free experiment from the author of This Naked Mind. Little changes can make a big, big difference! In The Little Book of Big Change , psychologist Amy Johnson shows you how to rewire your brain and overcome your bad habits - once and for all.
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