We met for chow circle at 7, ate breakfast, and played a game. Throughout the day, we had countless opportunities to bond with our fellow students and get to know everyone. As today was treated more as an introductory start to our adventure, it was very relaxed and low key. We learned more about the hospital itself and our plans for the duration of the trip. Learning how to poop in Thailand was by far the most interesting conversation we had.
Today we started off with our daily chow circle followed by a very yummy breakfast (so yum), then we packed our bags and drove to our first Buddhist temple where we had the opportunity to be blessed by a Monk during our tour. We then learned how to barter at our first Thai market, where a bunch of us bought elephant pants and other souvenirs. Following the market, we went to an Asian buffet. We then drove to 7/11 to get snacks for our next three weeks. Arriving at the FAE (elephant hospital), we learned about the five permanent residents and their individual stories, then we toured the facility and fed an elephant. Afterwards, we ate a traditional northern Thai dish: noodles and curry. After dinner, we got to know our advisors better as they shared their personal stories.
-Ocea and Bella
Today we learned what service work is really all about. One group woke up around 5:30 to cut grass for elephants. Turns out there are a lot of weird bugs in the grass. The other group woke up a little later to go care for the elephants. This involved sweeping the elephant enclosures and washing the elephants. This was our first time doing service, so it was a learning experience for everyone. Later in the day, we watched a documentary about, and met with the founder of the elephant hospital, Soraida Salwala. We had the opportunity to ask questions about how the hospital haste owns and changed. In the late afternoon, we got blessed by a witch doctor. The blessing given to us would allow our lost souls to return to us. Our souls could have gotten lost due to our extensive travel around the world, so the blessing will help us feel more at home here in Thailand. In the evening we all sat down and talked about ourselves, allowing us to learn more about ourselves and each other. As a group we learned that we are more similar to each other then we original thought..
Sarah and Fiona
The day started with half of the group going to cut grass and the other half assisting the mahouts with caring for the elephants. This included sweeping the enclosures and surrounding areas as well as helping wash the elephants. After breakfast we made enrichment toys for the baby elephants out of burlap sack and hay. Then we had the opportunity to hear from Richard Lair a world renowned elephant specialist. We learned a great amount from Mr. Lair regarding the significance of elephants in the history of Thailand and how they have been used throughout the history of the country. We then had the chance to play with Mosha one of the permanent reside to of FAE.
Harley and Belle.
July 20, 2017
At 8 in the morning, we began our adventure at the Thai elephant conservation center. We were guided by two Thai natives who helped us understand what went on before the center opened to the public. We first were able to see how the mahouts exercised the elephants and checked their vitals. We then headed over to another area where we viewed elephants hormones being checked for heat. We then traveled to the mahout training center where we got to wear the clothing that mahouts wear. We made herbal fiber treat for the elephants which later we were able to feed to the elephants. After that we drove to a lake area where we bathed three elephants with all natural sponges. Afterwards, we fed them corn, sugar cane, bananas, and the herbal treats we had made earlier. We then made a quick visit to the hospital where we learned how they treated different elephants. After the hospital, we went to this little cafe in the conservation center where we had delicious pad Thai! Once we had lunch, we were welcomed to see a show starring the Elephants where they demonstrated logging, showering and at the end we were allowed to feed them. After the show we were able to buy some snacks at the small little stores they had by the theater. After the show, we went to see a museum showing the past birth of elephants and comparing Africans and Asian elephants. After the museum, we took the car back to our base camp at FAE. Once we got home, we played some group bonding games before dinner. After dinner, we had a small amount of free time to enjoy, followed by watching a documentary based on intellectual elephants. It was a really interesting and fun filled day, we all learned a lot.
Heather & Lily
We started out the morning by splitting into our mentor groups, and doing some gardening and building a compost center for FAE. After lunch, we dressed up and headed off to the school. A cultural dance was performed, and we got to dance along! Being able to meet teens that were around the same age as us in a country with different customs and cultural aspects was eye opening and very impactful. Afterwards, we introduced ourselves to the students and they asked us questions and because of this we were able to become more familiar with each other and our interests. We left the school and headed to Lampang to have a walking tour of the temples and city. The group stopped at a riverside café for drinks, and then off to dinner on a small pond before returning back to FAE.
The morning started with breakfast following the group preparing to leave for the Little Village to spend the weekend. After finishing breakfast, we headed back to old Chiang Mai and took a tour of several temples around the city and we were able to see one of the biggest pagodas we had encountered and the tree that conceived the Buddha. After walking around Chiang Mai for a few hours, we went to lunch at a restaurant that specialized in tea. All of the food that we had was infused with tea that was grown and harvested in Thailand and was also one of the first brands of tea that used sustainable farming. After a delicious yet educational lunch we headed off to The Elephant Parade, an art organization that donates 20% of its profits to elephant conservation such as FAE. We got to paint our own decorative elephants before we headed out to the Saturday Night Walking Bazaar to do some shopping and have dinner. The entire group was worn out by the time we got back to the Little Village but it was a successful and productive day.
July 24, 2017
Today, we woke up and had a lovely breakfast. After a few hours of free time, we made our way to ChaiLai, which is a for/non profit organization two women founded to help young girls from Burma escape the dangers of sex trafficking and dehumanizations due to a lack of citizenship. The women also started ChaiLai to rent elephants so that they don’t have to work as hard compared to where they normally are. After hearing an informative talk from one of the founders, we met some of the elephants we would have the option to ride later on that day. After feeding and playing with them, we ate a Thai lunch. After lunch we bathed an 8 year old elephant calf named Dede, and then we proceeded to ride the older elephants. From there, we drove back to Little Village and played games before dinner. After dinner, we drove back to FAE where we had an early night in.
Harley Barlow and Rylie Walker
July 26, 2017
Today, we started the morning with our daily community service activities. One group went grass cutting and the other stayed in the hospital to work with the elephants. After our morning service, we had chow circle and breakfast. Following breakfast, the two groups either went to work in the garden or to help with the compost. After our hard work, we were able to cook a delicious, traditional Thai papaya salad. After lunch, we were all lucky enough to experience authentic Thai massages. After a relaxing hour of being pampered, we were using our art skills to the test to paint some adorable elephant key chains. After the keychains, we watched a Ted Talk called “The Danger Of A Single Story” and followed that with a discussion. After the discussion, we had din din and it was scrumptious. After a long day of work, we had free time after dinner and ended a great day in paradise.
Lily and Ocea!!
After being treated with massages yesterday, today was very service-oriented. We started the day by waking up at 5:30 to either cut grass for the elephants or clean their enclosures. Following our early-morning service, we ate breakfast and then proceeded to do more service; some of us built a compost box while others gardened and tidied up around the hospital. Then we ate a very-yummy pad Thai lunch with some chicken nuggets, a great combo. After lunch we made toys for the baby elephants in and out of the hospital. Our last piece of service involved us finishing the key rings that we started in previous days, which will be sold here at the hospital to raise money for the patients. We then participated in an aggravating yet successful team-building exercise to build our leadership skills. Finally, we ate dinner and watched a brief TED talk about leadership.
Fiona and Bella
Fellow readers please get comfy you are about to embark on our adventure. Grab your popcorn.
We started our morning early, before we heard the roosters cackadodledoo. We trekked out into the humid air, ready for a fulfilling day of giving back to our fellow elephant friends. Half of the group began with our mighty weapons, some call machetes, slaying the treacherous grass. The other half of us tidied up the elephant’s homes. We broke a sweat, and worked up an appetite only to find a delicious hot breakfast before us. After a short break, we were greeted by a genius professor and her wonderful colleague. They spoke about the rich history of Thai culture and how it affects the lives of Thai people to this day. After indulging in a detailed spiel, we peace and chowed on, yet another, delicious hot lunch. After lunch we digested our lovely meal, getting ready for the next activity. One group began constructing a marvelous compost box to reuse food scraps and reduce our carbon footprint. The other group reassured that the paths of FAE would be spick and span, free of weeds and debris that the wind blew in. But suddenly, ominous clouds formed above us, releasing tears from the sky and cries of thunder filled the atmosphere. Were pelted by bullets of rain, screaming “why.?!” until we seeked shelter, waiting out the frightening storm. After the rain had subsided we all made an effort to resume our gardening work. Our silly little friend Non introduced us to their organic garden where we were instructed to maintain the lemongrass. We were surprised by the warm welcome of our slimy amigos, the snails. Julia and Belle, the leaders of the day, felt it was their responsibility to form a snail clan; to make them our own. Everyone in the group was on board, making it their personal duty to collect and protect our snail family. Once we ensured their safety, we gained their trust and released them as a group back into their home. We trotted back to home base and washed our hands preparing for our pizza project. Like chefs, we created delicacies, only found in the states. Settling in for the night, we grabbed our popcorn and enlightened ourselves with a quality rom com. Eyelids beginning to get heavy, one by one GLA students began to drift into sleep; exhausted from a satisfying and tiring day of service. We dreamt about how we can help the elephants for the following days. Until next time, friends.
Peace & chow.
-Belle and Julia