After a couple of short delays we have all 24 students here safe and sound, ready for the start of session 3
Phone calls have been made to all parents with a couple of students leaving messages. We will call again in the morning.
Hello Mother Hens and Father Poppies! We have just concluded day 3 of the Elephant Village Initiative. Can I just say we are having a BLASSSSSTTTT!!! On our first real day here in Thailand, we pleased our eyes with the sights of Wat Chiang Mun and Chedi Luang temples. After being mesmerized by the articulate layout of the temples we went and paid a visit to Elephant Parade. While at Elephant Parade we were able to learn more about the elephants as well as being able to put our artistic abilities to work and paint our own elephant figurines. The money from Elephant Parade goes to support the Elephant Hospital Foundation. We finished with dinner at Chiangmai Gate, a local food market. On our second day we woke up and started our day with a short chow circle and breakfast here at the hotel. After eating breakfast, we made a 30 minute drive up into the mountains of Chiang Mai to visit Doi suthep temple and a beautiful lookout point over Chiang Mai city. After spending a few hours taking in all of the beautiful culture we made our way back down to enjoy lunch at Lam duan , where we ate a famous Chiang Mai dish called Kao Soi. We went on to then visit Navamindarajudis Phayap School. There, we were able to give a powerpoint about just how different America is from Thailand. We then serenaded them with the sounds of our beautiful national anthem. We all can now say that we have at least a few best friends here in Thailand. To end the day we ignored our exhaustion and absorbed some of the night life of the night bazzra. We are SO ready for tomorrow!
-Michelle & Lydia
Today we left Chiang Mai and headed to Thai Elephant Home. We arrived and were greeted by a few elephants and went and found our new rooms. We quickly changed into mahout clothes, excited to go meet our elephants we rushed down to the place where they are kept. We hopped on random elephants to practice what it would feel like. We headed out on our trek through the jungle. Some of us walked and some of us hopped on our elephant. There are two people and a mahout to each elephant. We crossed the road and everybody had to jump on an elephant to cross the river. Once across the river it was a long trek on elephant back up the mountain to the mud spa. Once at the mud spa we ate a delicious lunch of pad thai and sweet sticky rice. We finished up lunch and went to bathe the elephants in the mud. A mud fight quickly ensued and we were all thrown in the mud and covered. We climbed back onto the elephants and headed down to the river to clean up. Once in the river we jumped off and had lots of fun. The mahouts thoroughly enjoyed starting water fights and shamelessly used their elephant’s trunk to spray us. We headed back to home base and showered up before some games and dinner. After dinner we split into smaller groups and chatted. We headed to bed ready for sleep and excited for the long day ahead of us.
Yesterday was a blast! After waking up bright and early to feed the elephants and clean their stalls, we headed out into the jungle with mini-trees in hand to plant on the mountainside. We split into a few groups, using hoes and machetes to clear the brush and dig holes for the trees. Hundreds of holes later, a new forest was freshly planted. We left the jungle for a quick cat nap before venturing out on our daily trip to the river with the elephants. With our elephant partners, we all rode atop our elephants and bathed them in the river. Later, after returning to Thai Elephant Home for a delicious dinner of cashew stir fry, we watched a documentary that exposed the unfair and brutal treatment of elephants when they are trained for performance and work. We then discussed our personal opinions and debated the questionable treatment of elephants in Thailand. We are so excited to spend even more time with our elephants and interact with the community tomorrow!
During the past two days, we split up into two groups and had so much fun! One group visited the elephant nursery, and got to play, learn, and care for two baby elephants and their mothers! It was really amazing and they were so cute! We also planted rice and built a dam there, it was so cool! The other group went to the village school to teach the students English and play games with them! It was amazing teaching our culture to Thai kids, they loved it and it was so much fun. We then swapped for the second day to do the other activity. The past two days have been a whirl wind of fun, adventure, culture, and memories to last a life time! We never want to leave!!!
– Jessica Stubbs and Emma Mackey
Today we had a village/temple/health clinic tour! We walked into the village from the Thai Elephant Home which wasn’t very far, we walked into a local market to buy our mahouts gifts to say thank you for everything that they have done. The market was like a very big, spread out dollar store! They just had everything you need. It was nice, the people were so kind. After that we went into the Temple which was absolutely beautiful, there we bowed and prayed to show our respect and then we went outside to see the pictures of what happens if you do bad things (basically the 5 rules of Buddhism) The 5 rules of Buddhism are:
Don’t kill animals
After that we walked to a little store where everyone bought some snacks and ice cream which was very fun but then it started POURING so we waited a little bit but walked back after a little bit, and it slowed down a lot so that was nice. After we got back to Thai Elephant Home we went to talk and learn about T, a man who moved into The Elephant home a little over a year ago and he owns an elephant here.
He just told us about his story and what he has done which was awesome, we asked him questions after too.
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Today, we tackled the great challenge of grass cutting! Elephants are incredibly big animals, and they eat SO MUCH food (10 percent of their body weight every day)! To feed these massive creatures, grass cutters work six hours a day in the grass fields cutting bushels. So today, we tried our hand at it. Grass cutting is quite the feat, and the grass the elephants eat is very sharp and tall. We wore long pants and long shirts with bandanas and hiked up a pretty big hill to the grass fields, where we were handed machetes and told to survive alone in the woods for the night. Just kidding. We were taught how to properly cut down the 12 foot tall grass stalks and then bundle them with bamboo ties. We didn’t realize that this was the incredibly fun part of the task, and even though some of our friends looked quite scary holding machetes, we escaped with all limbs intact. After cutting the bushels, we carried them up an incredibly muddy hill to the trucks. This definitely was good team bonding, as we were all flailing in the mud, except for Ashley and Diana, who were the champions of The Bundle Carry. There was a definite sense of accomplishment in feeding our elephants the grass we cut, but we also gained a new respect for the grass cutters who do this each and every day. Caring for elephants is incredibly hard work, and we are very lucky to be able to experience it first hand and learn from these inspiring people.
Peace and Chow!
– Soph and Cat
All students have departed and are on their way home!