Thursday July 19, 2018
Hi Friends and Family,
We are so excited to welcome this amazing group of globe-hopping, world-changing, young ladies to Thailand! The Fabulous Fourteen have landed in a far away country and are here to make a difference!
We’ve gotten to know more about their individual strengths and what they can bring to the team! We have a diverse crew that is learning about their upcoming service projects: having an authentic Thai school teaching/learning experience and volunteering at an ethical Elephant sanctuary by prepping food and maintaining the grounds.
Through learning about teaching techniques, elephant social/psychological development and issues within the tourist industry, we are certain these ladies will come back to their home community with a new series of skills and ideas of local and global issues to begin addressing with passion, commitment, and targeted determination.
We look forward to a great session and will keep you posted.
In the spirit of adventure,
International Director – Group B
Elephant Village Initiative
Friday July 20, 2018
Good evening/morning depending on where you are reading from! Today started out a little later than usual, as the majority of us were experiencing jet lag. As a group we determined the goals and expectations that we have for this trip as well as went over the code of conduct. On our tour throughout the Elephant Sanctuary we learned as much as we could about the elephants. The owner of the sanctuary, Jack, had many experiences to share regarding the history of what makes this sanctuary so unique.
Following a walking tour spent watching elephants play in mud whilst experiencing Thailand downpour. We were able to learn and observe much of the elephant’s natural behaviors. The best part of the day came when had the opportunity to get extra close to the elephants and feed them lots of banana tree. We are extremely excited for the upcoming service days. Stay tuned!
Thai Word of the Day – “Chang”: Elephant
Leaders of the Day,
Amia and Kelly
Saturday July 21, 2018
Today was filled with many tasks.
Picture this, 14 girls in oversized black boots approach a pile of elephant poo. They continue working hard at the element, which was roughly the shape of a baby’s head, trying to clean the sleeping area of the 2 ton weighing creatures.
Next up, was uprooting the weeds and sticks covering a nearby field with the plan to plant a new field of grass for the elephants. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far. We did, however, clear a generous area. The hardest part was definitely lugging the uprooted, bug infested weeds and tree branches up to our seemingly very far away pile. Yes the work was difficult, but also incredibly rewarding.
After a delicious lunch, we had another infamous conversation with Jack, the owner of the sanctuary. We observed Thong Inn, the only male elephant in the sanctuary, and talked in depth about him being in Must. This is the when a male elephant is looking to mate and in the wild becomes competitive with male elephants due to his spike in testosterone.
We continued walking on the path until we reached the pond. In a flurry of events we watched the youngest elephant, Lou, attack a nearby tire as its prey and then playfully jump in the pond as a means to drown the rubbery snack. The splashing and chaos that ensued was terrifically exciting.
Then, things turned wet with an incoming thunderstorm which caused our banana tree cutting to be cut short while we chatted at the dining tables.
Once the rain ended we fed the elephant again, which of course was just as amazing as yesterday. We then engaged in an amusing round of spoons as our chosen Leader of the Day Activity, and were finally all able to take a much need shower to wash off.
We ended our day with another delicious dinner, fun free time, and are about to watch an elephant documentary. Another great day!
-Grace Battles and Grace Moser
Monday July 23, 2018
Today was our last day of service in this beautiful elephant sanctuary. We finished working on the fields, planting banana grass for the elephants to eat, as well as continue to pick up the elephant’s poo. We were able to have a chat with the co-founder of this amazing sanctuary, and talk about future goals and what has led him to live out his dreams. He also answered any questions we had about the elephants we took care of, such as their abilities to do certain things.
As much stress and tiredness the group went through during service due to factors such as heat, it’s quite sad that this was our last work day with the elephants. On the good side, we’re leaving the sanctuary tomorrow and visiting some temples, which we are all extremely looking forward to.
Diana and Jenny!
Tuesday July 24, 2018
Today was different from the previous. We had our first cultural experience. We delved into the depths of one of the key factors in most Thai people’s lives, religion.
Our morning began greeted by the endless loaves of toast and delicious jams for breakfast at 8.30, a whole hour later than usual. At 9.30 we boarded our vans and headed out to our first location, the Jade Temple in which we met with a surprise guest, our program coordinator John Strand. He briefly educated us on Buddhism and afterwards we were allowed to roam freely in the temple.
Later on we reunited in a predetermined spot and boarded the vans again for a quick ride to our next location, The Nine Tiered Temple.
Here we encountered a building shaped like Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy, a completely white temple and a breathtaking nine tiered tower. The third eye of the goddess was actually a window easily accessible with a short elevator ride. Most of us very willingly payed the 40 baht to ride it. Up there we were met by an astonishing view of the green Chiang Rai area. All this tourism was bound to make us hungry.
At 12:30 we had a luscious buffet lunch at a resort’s restaurant. Many of us were more than glad to see desserts that were not fruits. After this refueling we headed to the last location in our list, the Blue Temple. This temple was designed by a known Thai artist’s apprentice and was a beautiful shade of blue with colour full accents.
We took a group picture to commemorate our budding friendships and dived into this awe-inspiring construction. Right outside of the temple we had opportunities to buy the infamous elephant pants and local treats like coconut ice cream. Our last stop today was only added after popular demand, a grocery store, or so we thought. We ended up going to a small mall with a supermarket and even a Dairy Queen where many of us enjoyed an icy Blizzard.
We bought absolute necessities such as face masks, handy watches snacks and tiger balm to soothe our newly attained bug bites. Our day full of adventure started winding down as we sung in our vans. When we arrived back at Elephant Valley Thailand we got a last chance to feed the elephant and say goodbye to our lovely guides. Our last dinner at this location was a tasty pad Thai and a variety of fruit, and we began packing for the adventure that awaits us.
Written by: Kaitlynn and Nancy
Wednesday July 25, 2018
We woke the group up bright and early *emphasis on early*, and initiated the day with some last-minute packing so we could head out for the next adventure. Breakfast, as per usual, was delicious but having to say goodbye to the people, elephants and resident dog, KFC, of EVT made moving feel bittersweet. After that up, we hopped in the vans and drove to a very different home for Elephants called Elephant Peace Thailand.
At EPT, we explored the culture of the hill tribe people, especially surrounding elephants. While elephant peace travel is considered more ethical than most, it still has some major differences from our last sanctuary. The hill tribe people let the elephants get up close and personal, which at first is enticing until you remember they are wild animals. While the elephants still get free range, they also get very close to humans, which is something they don’t enjoy.
When it came time to wash, the initial feeling was excitement, which took a sharp turn down hill. After everything we had learned it was hard to see those complex animals forced to do anything.
As the day progressed we learned more about the love, respect, and spiritual connection they had with the elephants. We began to realize we had to take a lot of things into account, and put our western views or judgments aside. The hill tribe people view elephants as their equals, they feel they have a spiritual connection with these animals. The people don’t have much money or access to jobs, so they need to use the elephants in order to survive. However they also want to them to be free, so when they aren’t being fed or washed they roam through the hills. It was a real eye opener to see not only a different culture, but also the impacts of money and tourism. These things effect people and animals alike.
After such complex a experience, we concluded the day with an Elephant Capstone meeting in which we discussed the differences and similarities of EVT and EPT and participated in a mock-UN conference. We were split to represent three groups: Elephant Sanctuaries, Mahoots of the Hill Tribe, and Tourism of Thailand. Then, in imitation of these parties, we discussed potential solutions to solve the elephant crisis that could satisfy each of our needs. This activity was extremely impactful because it brought us all out of our individual perspectives and broadened the focus from the issues at hand to practical problem solving and it’s nuances.
All in all, the day was packed and though difficult at times, was positive in that each event felt critical to our learning experience.
Maddie & Paige
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today after a delicious breakfast, we headed to the local hot springs. We were surprised to learn that one of the pools was so hot that they sold eggs visitors could boil in it. Needless to say, that was not the pool we swam in. We swam in a different pool that was basically a huge bath. After 20 minutes when we got hot, many of us went to get foot massages while the others went to get coffee with Rein and Diana.
After the hot springs, we headed to Singha Park and had a sandwich picnic! We then got a tour of the beautiful park and were able to taste tea, mushroom soup, and see some cute zebras. After our guided tour around Singha Park, a few of our brave souls zip-lined above the parks beautiful view. When we returned to Chang Garden, we had spaghetti for dinner and got ready for the Saturday Night market. This authentic market allowed us to experience real Thai culture, such as eating crickets and cockroaches. The market was crowded with sellers and buyers; many of us got lots of souvenirs to bring back home but none as great as the lessons we’ve learned on the trip. As we near the end, we are looking forward to enjoying these last few days especially our upcoming Thai cooking class!
-Grace Battles and Amia Reddy
Today was a relatively laid back day. We stayed at home base doing different activities since there currently is a Thai holiday that limited our options. Regardless, we got to experience a fun Thai cooking class, and a soap work shop.
During the class we cooked our lunch. We made green curry and pad thai.
In the afternoon, we were taught how to make a sweet Thai dessert using ingredients such as coconut milk, rice flour, and natural foods as food coloring. Not only did we learn how to make delicious dishes, but we also made adorable soaps to take home. We dyed them with a spiky sticky fruit called Gac fruit and the smell amazing.
After all the cooking and soap making we felt the need to relax. We had a while of free time and then we relaxed by the pool, accompanied by some great music.
We wrapped up our hands-on day with a movie.
Monday July 30, 2018
Today we got some beauty sleep, waking up at 9 for breakfast, headed for a market on the boarder of Myanmar at 10:30, and spent some time shopping. Some of our phones had different times because of the change in time zones. For lunch we all met at 12, and had pizza! Off we went to the Golden triangle. We walked up to a giant golden Buddha to look over the huge muddy river below. We could view three countries that connected at a single point and were visible from multiple directions: Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. After a quick look we went to some local shops then found our way to a giant staircase. At the top was a temple built in 579 A.C. and some ruins around it. After, we left for home base and played some card games as a group. For dinner we had our favorite, Pad Thai. The day flew by, and we are ready to take on our last day in this beautiful country tomorrow!
Allie and Hannah