June 21st, written by Jayne Pollock and Kylie Crist:
Today we went to an elephant hospital an hour away from Chiang Mai. After visiting the hospital we went to lunch near the elephant conservation. At the elephant conservation we watched the watched the elephants bath and an elephant show. After that, we learned about the making of the elephant paper out of their waste.
Jayne and Kylie
June 21, 2017
We started off the morning by hiking a flight of 307 steps to the Suthep Temple where we were met with a beautiful golden pagoda and stunning view of Chiang Mai. Next we traveled to ABS, an international school, where we met and interacted with students our age from a variety of Asian countries. We sang and danced to a pop song and watched their well-choreographed performance; after, we played a game of basketball, in which we were terribly defeated by the international students. For dinner, we were taken to a food court in a mall, where we were able to choose our meals. We ended the day at a lively night market, where we greeted by colorful paintings, fragrant soaps, and an endless array of clothing.
June 22, 2017
Starting off early, we made our way to Thai Elephant Home to stay and learn about Mahoots (elephant keepers), elephants, and elephant conservation. We were assigned our elephant who we will take care of for about a week. To bond with our elephants more, we went on a hike in mountains nearby and finished it off with a bath in the river. Everyone is excited and enthusiastic about bonding with our elephants more.
Today we started the morning off early by cleaning and sweeping where the elephants stay and rinsing them off. Then, we had breakfast and after that we started our service. We split into two groups and one group went to cut grass for the elephants to eat and the other group started building a dam. In the afternoon we took the elephants for a walk and bathed them in the river. Overall, it was a great first day of service and we were able to get to know our elephants better.
Written by Clara and Alexandra
June 25, 2017
Today was our second full day working at the elephant village. After an early morning of feeding and cleaning our elephants we headed to service where both groups made significant progress. The grass cutting group increased their yield from yesterday and the dam building group finished GLAs first dam of the summer. Before our afternoon activity we learned some valuable information about what it is like to volunteer with peace corps and after a riveting game of trivia and some flag making we went to the river to give the elephants their daily bath. The dark clouds above made it seem as if we may experience our first torrential downpour of the trip
Wade and Marianna
June 26, 2017
Today we woke up early, as usual, to take care of our elephants with duties including cleaning and feeding. Afterwards, we had breakfast and then split into groups for our activities for the day. One group continued with community service and cut grass for the elephants. The other group had the opportunity to go to an elephant nursery. They fed the baby elephants bananas, walked with them through the jungle, and gave them baths in the river. This group stayed and had lunch at the nursery. The group at the grass cutting got the chance to receive a Thai Massage after they ate lunch. After both groups brought their elephants to the river for their daily baths, we all went to Leslie’s, more commonly known as Mr. T’s, house to learn about what brought him to Thai Elephant Home. We concluded the night with dinner and discussions in our mentor groups.
-Mia and Kaylie
June 27, 2017
Today we started off like we always do with cleaning up and feeding the elephants. One group got to go to the nursery who were the ones that had massages yesterday. Well the other group had their first day of grass cutting! The grass cutters today seem to do more than the grass cutters previously oops. The grass cutters were able to have massages after service which they seemed to enjoy it a lot! The nursery group was able to spend a lot of time with the baby elephants including Sunday and 44! After dinner we got to play a fun leadership game where one person I after dinner we got to play a fun leadership game where one person has a blindfold and can move but cannot speak, another one has a blindfold and can talk but cannot move, and the last person can see but cannot speak or move. The goal of the game was to send the person who is blindfolded and can move to find as many shoes that were scattered around the ground as possible! It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot of skills such as communication. Today was overall a very eventful day!!
Ciara and Avery
Wednesday Day 10:
Today we woke up to rain, and did our usual elephant cleaning. After, we went to a local market which had many different foods and trinkets. We then went back to home base for breakfast and to get ready for service. Kelly’s mentor group cut grass for the elephants, Sam’s started to build their dam. On our way back from cutting grass, the truck carrying the grass had gotten stuck in the mud and we had to push it out. Back at home base, everyone showered and relaxed during their free time. By the time we were suppose to take our regular hike to the river with our elephants, the rain and thunder began again. We all decided to stay back for our safety and play some games instead. We played the human knot, grab the bacon, just to name a few. We all had fun running around in the rain. Then a student bought frogs at the market and fried them up and everyone tried them. Tastes like chicken.
By: Cynthia Macias & Cecilia Petersen
June 29th, 2017
As usual, in the mornings, we went to help the mahouts clean up and feed the elephants. Afterwards we ate breakfast and got ready for our last day of service. One group went to finish their dam, and the other went to cut grass. Then we came back to home base, showered, and ate lunch. We got chocolate bread and ice cream today!! Then we had a little walk and learned a bit about Buddhism and the god Ganesh. Next was our elephant walk and bath, the tide was super high from the rain so we had to be careful. Before dinner we played a game of soccer with the mahouts, and ate a yummy dinner.
Maille and Tatjana
June 30, 2017
We woke up at our regular time of 5:45 this morning and walked over to our elephants to do our morning duties. We cleaned up their poop, bathed them, and fed them breakfast. After we finished, we ate breakfast and got ready to go on our white water rafting adventure. The drive took about 40 minutes but we were all amazed by the spectacular view of the jungle even though we’ve seen it every day for the past 12 days. Once we got to the rafting company, we picked out our helmets, paddles, and life jackets. Then we learned the basic commands of rafting from the kind guides that would accompany us throughout the adventure. We started down the river and practiced what we learned so that we were ready for the rapids. About 20 minutes down the river, everyone screamed and giggled as they splashed down the raging rapids. We were able to play in the calm parts of the river and everyone had a blast trying to pull each other in. About two hours later, we reached the destination where we would eat lunch and then depart from the guides and head back to camp. Once we got back to camp, we had time to shower and then a group discussion about what we can do to change the world as individuals. Then we had our final elephant bath of the trip where a few of the students decided that they’d walk alongside their mahouts and elephants instead of riding today as a symbol of appreciation for the wonderful week they’ve given us. Tonight, we had dinner and now we are preparing for a dance party with the mahouts and their families as a goodbye before we leave for Chiang Mai tomorrow afternoon.
-Kenzie & Tatum
July 1, 2017
Today, we said our final goodbyes to our elephants at Thai Elephant Home and headed back to Imm Hotel in Chiang Mai for our last night. After arriving at the hotel, we went to the Art In Paradise 3D museum, which contained interactive 3D art and enjoyed fresh smoothies and coffee at the local cafe. After that, we had our farewell dinner at Riverside Restaurant and headed out for a dinner cruise on the river. We then spent our last night in Chiang Mai at a lively night market where we bought souvenirs. We then went back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before a long trip home.
Blog by Jesse & Kate
We are all incredibly sad to be leaving Thailand. We spent our last day sleeping in till 8AM, visiting an amazing cat cafe, enjoying traditional Thai massages, and relishing our final, authentic Thai meal. The days spent here, in the company of new lifelong friends, flew by faster than any of us could have imagined. It feels like just yesterday we were hopping off the plane and on to the back of our elephants for the first time. We’ll miss waking up at the earliest hours of the morning to clean up after our elephants. We’ll miss interacting with our mahouts and mentors. We’ll miss being immersed in the Thai culture we’ve all grown so fond of. Thank you GLA for providing us with a trip we will never forget.