When everyone was done and out of their sweaty clothes. We had a lecture with Richard Lair, one of Thailand’s foremost elephant specialists. This lecture informed us about elephants and helped answer some of our many questions. While we’re listening to him we also got to look at some of the work he has done with elephants, including paintings done by them and CDs from his elephant orchestra. We then ate lunch and played some card games.
After that, we walked around the hospital taking notes on all the ways we could help improve the signage and make it more accessible to tourists. We then discussed our ideas with the entire group, identifying the most immediate things that could use improvements. Later, at 4 pm (an auspicious time) we got blessed by a local witch doctor. Since we had been traveling, the purpose of the ceremony was to help our souls find our bodies here and to ask for the protection of the forest spirits during our stay. It was a very beautiful ceremony with chanting, and at the end, we each received a bracelet to keep on for 7 days.
After dinner, we played a few games before we headed off to bed. This group, as we quickly found out, is extremely competitive. It was a great end to a great day.-Morgan and Fiona
(Pictures of grass cutting and ceremony)
We had about an hour drive to get to the waterfall, and when we got there it was very beautiful. We had an hour to play on the waterfalls and we spent the entire time climbing up them. It was super fun, especially because the water had rounded out the rock making it a lot easier and safer. Even the ground was pretty because it had green moss and ferns. The only bad thing was this ant line that would attack our feet occasionally.
When we arrived at the rafting dock, there were only six life jackets, so we had to wait almost 45 minutes for the next load. During that time, we all played games together and had group bonding, which was super fun and nice. When all the rafts and life jackets were ready, we boarded the rafts with about five people on each. The river was cold and flowing fast, so it was a lot of fun when we would hit waves. After the rafting we changed into dry clothes and headed to lunch.
Monday, July 3rd.
Prosthetic leg lecture and paper mache
The day started out like any other, we woke at our perspective times to do our morning service then had another great breakfast here at FAE. After breakfast we headed off to a prosthetics lecture led by Professor Therdchai where we learned how the prosthetic elephant legs were made. During this lecture we got to ask questions and learned lots! After the lecture we broke off into two groups, one painted keychain elephants and the other made paper mache elephants. The paper mache elephants were a challenge but with a little work they will be pretty!! With all this hard work behind us we headed to dinner and spent the rest of the evening hanging out and playing games!
– Amanda B and Morgan E
Our exciting fourth of July in Thailand started out with papaya salad and packing. Each student helped to prepare a portion of the breakfast- carrots were cut, spices were pounded and papayas were shaved. Only a few students made the mistake of including the innocent looking but horrendously spicy red peppers in their individual salads. Afterwards, we visited a Thai school, where Chris was swarmed by adoring fans who were convinced that he was a famous Korean actor. The busses finally navigated through his chanting mob of girls and dropped us off for a walking tour of the old city in Lampang. We trekked through the rain, and finally ended up in one of the bustling night markets of Thailand. For a few hours, we wandered among equally pungent meat and perfume stalls, bejeweled flip flops, and a slew of hideously patterned clothing that the vendors must have assumed would be irresistible to tourists. After we all showed off our vicious haggling skills (sort of), we finally returned to the FAE elephant hospital for the night.
– Sam Guindon
Today we took the vans farther into the mountains, to the Elephant Care Home. In this elephant camp we started off by feeding and meeting four of the nine elephants who currently live there. We then had a question and answer with the owner of the camp.
After a lunch of pad thai, we split into two groups, one who rode elephants and one that went to the nursery. At the nursery we met the 5 month old baby elephant, and its family. We relaxed, fed them, and bathed them. The other group rode the elephants through the jungle and bathed them.
From there we traveled the Hmong Hill Tribe Lodge, where we watched a traditional dance and slept.
Saturday July 8th:
Today our group woke up early for some morning service including cutting grass and assisting the mahouts. After, we ate breakfast and headed to our second round of service for the day. One group worked on an organic vegetable garden while the other mixed cement to help build the new compost bin. After a brief rest and some lunch, we shared our thoughts about events from the previous days. We debated about the balance of economic profit versus maintaining elephant welfare. We discovered the complexity of keeping domesticated elephants. Our group concluded that in order to truly help elephants, we must educate tourists on the difference between good and bad camps, while also demonstrating that domestication is not always harmful and is often necessary. We wrapped up the day with some team building games and a traditional Thai meal for dinner. With only 3 days left, our group is making the most of our time left in Thailand!
By: Maesyn and Maddy