A couple of days ago I was lucky enough to return to Elephant Family Sanctuary, in the Maewang District of Chiang Mai. On this day it started raining just as we got to the camp, so things were done a little bit differently from my previous visit. Our lovely guide Cookie gave us a bit of a run down on elephants and safety around them, then we grabbed our feed bags and climbed the hill to load up on cucumbers. Once again our group was small – there were five of us – and we were joined by a likely couple of lads from London, upon who I directly lay the blame for the ensuing discussion on elephants and flatulence. You know who you are, Aziz and Shay. Continue reading
I’ve just had the privilege of playing with elephants at Elephant Family Sanctuary, in the Maewang District, about an hour and a half south of Chiang Mai. It’s run by my Thai adopted brother Chaiw, who rang me on Saturday afternoon and said he had booked me in for the next morning to go on a half-day excursion and I would be picked up earlier in the a.m. than I am generally comfortable with. So I hauled myself out of bed, foregoing my crucial morning coffee, (potentially fatal to those around me) and got myself ready for this momentous occasion. The EFS silver van duly picked me up at 7.15am and we did the rounds, via back roads and lanes, to pick up the other clientele that were in on this particular trip, Theresa and Tom from California and a young lady from Israel who I think was named Carly. We were a small group today, which I’ve found is always a good thing, as you get to ask your guide lots of questions. And I am indeed rather nosy, although I prefer the label “Curious” or “Enquiring”. There was also a driver, who didn’t speak English, and our guide was a lovely young lady called Hnong, friendly and full of smiles, with quite reasonable English.
When I turned 50, I was awarded ‘Awesomeness Points’ by my daughter for getting my first tattoo in a bamboo hut, down a dirt track, in the jungle of Chiang Mai, North Thailand, surrounded by elephants. Rather a proud moment really, earning said points. Then, a few days ago and three years on, I repeated that journey, from New Zealand to Bangkok to Chiang Mai to an hour north of Chiang Mai then through the elephant park to see Jodi Thomas, artist and elephant activist extraordinaire in her new bamboo hut down another track, still surrounded by elephants, and requested some further tattooing. As you do.
I have just had the pleasure of Jodi Thomas ‘s wonderfully kind and fun hospitality over the last couple of days at the elephant park where she has lived and contributed greatly to the well-being of rescued elephants for around 15 years, situated in the jungle Chiang Mai, North Thailand.
Jodi is a painter, mixed media artist and tattooist, and supports both herself and her son through these mediums. Above is a photo of a print that I have just bought from her. As I’m still traveling for a little while yet, it is still in its plastic and won’t be mounted until I get back home to New Zealand in a few weeks. But it’s just so beautiful that I have hung it up on my guesthouse room as I can’t wait until I get home to be able to gaze at it.
Jodi painted this picture of Kabu, who has a very damaged front leg. But Kabu refuses to be pitied and manages life just fine, thank you very much. This picture is a loving tribute to Kabu’s resilient spirit and downright gutsy attitude.
Here is Kabu’s story:
“Kabu was born around 1990. She arrived to ENP very late on September 22nd 2015. Her mother was a logging elephant. She had to go with her mom while she pushed and pulled logs. At two years old, a log rolled out of control and struck Kabu, breaking her front left wrist. It healed badly and left her very handicapped. Despite this, when she was old enough, she was also put to work in logging doing light labour. She was also subjected to forced breeding. Kabu had two babies, neither of which she was allowed to keep for very long. One was a bull, who died soon after his spirit was broken. The other a female who was sold into the elephant show industry.
Since Kabu had to over use her right front leg to carry her weight, it has also grown very deformed. To gaze upon her, fills you with pity… until you see her move. She gets along quite well. She has lived with this handicap for her entire life. She has dignity. She does not let her injury hold her back… She does not feel sorry for herself. Do not feel sorry for her. She is a survivor!”
Please visit Jodi’s Zazzle page to see some of the products you can buy, printed with Jodi’s awesome and vibrant art, many of which feature elephants Jodi has known, lived with and cared for. Please aid Jodi to not only create a wage to live on but also an awareness of elephants and their plight at the hands of humans and their cruelty and greed.
Grab yourself an awesome piece of art and help spread awareness of both domestic and wild elephants who need all the help they can get. And you can also help Jodi and the elephants by sharing this post far and wide to spread some good loving awareness around. Humans are responsible for the misery that the majority of elephants suffer today, and that way too many have in the past – let’s rip into reversing that situation.
Visit Jodi’s site here:
Thank you for caring. Every little bit we do will help add up to positive change.
Checkout was at noon, so I bade goodbye to my room , which happened to be Number 747, a truly relevant number for someone having just stepped off a plane. I walked down a few alleyways and caught my first tuktuk of this trip to Hua Lamphong train station to pick up my ticket for the overnight train to Chiang Mai. The driver dropped me at the wrong place, so I had to bring back to mind the trick for crossing the road in Bangkok traffic – wait for the locals to cross and get in amongst them. The midday sun beat down on my head mercilessly as I meandered about looking for the agency that held my train ticket. I finally discovered them craftily hidden in an abandoned-looking building and got things sorted. Another tuktuk back and I arrived at the guesthouse prepared to do the waiting game until my train left. This entailed busking with my ukulele for drinking water – a deal I set up with the reception lady who thankfully seemed to enjoy my plunking and wailing. Continue reading
The ride to Auckland airport went well. Reasonably nice weather, good music and the fine company of my two closest friends, Carol the Awesome and Peter the Great. The only thing spoiling it was the fact that I had no idea if my plane tickets were real. This is the first time I’ve ever ordered plane tickets online, and I had great trepidation as to whether the durned things were actually real! Once I got checked in though, to my great relief the trip became a reality – I was off to Thailand!!
The checking in process seemed to go very fast, and as per tradition, I had forgotten to empty my water bottle and got hauled aside by Customs. ‘Twas a short trip indeed for that bottle. Who knows where it lives now. Continue reading
It’s not very often I write serious stuff on here, but every now and again I feel driven to do so, and I hope you readers will feel the same and spread this message around. The article below is about the Surin Roundup – an event that happens in the Surin province of Thailand, to commemorate both the importance of the Thai elephant and the local peoples’ important relationship with them. Involving 200 elephants or more, it’s large, loud, spectacular, and HELL for the elephants. Have a look at the pictures in the article, and in the links below it – the huge, sharp hooks used on the elephants’ sensitive skin, the barbed wire, the wounds marked out by a purple substance..
If you are thinking of going to Thailand, or elsewhere, and are wanting an elephant experience, please do some research and educate yourself before you do so. There are many situations involving elephants that also involve great unhappiness for them. Being made to walk on hard surfaces, being chained separately so they cannot touch each other, being hit and gouged with sharp instruments, being made to work very long hours in the hot sun, babies being made to beg rather than being at their mother’s side and suckling from her – it may be a happy and fun experience for you, but sadly it’s quite the opposite for the elephants.
Most of us humans have at least a small fascination with elephants. And most of us know that forest-dwelling elephants need forests. I bet what a lot of people don’t know is that forests need elephants.
Due to their Inefficient Digestive Systems (IDS) *TM, elephants only digest around 40-something percent of what they eat. The rest gets dumped out the opposite ends of their bodies, if you get my gist. Having personally dealt with this end product, so to speak, I can attest to the fact that the matter that they have put into their chewing ends comes out darned near as fresh as when it went in. In other words, seeds from the plants they have eaten remain pretty much intact and are deposited wherever the elephants go, in nice tidy fertilized packages, ready to grow again. Continue reading
Hi all. I haven’t posted for a little while as we’ve been pretty busy around here with the silly season and all that it brings. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, or Joyous Pagan Festivities, or whatever peels yer bananas.
To those in America and England, I’m sorry to hear that you’re rather cold at the moment, so I won’t rave on about what a perfect summer we’re having, as I sit outside on a beautifully starry night enjoying the wee solar lights and the humidity – that would just be cruel and I won’t do that to you. Nor will I mention the plums and avocados raining down upon us on a daily basis or Rustle the Hedgehog snuffling about feasting on them or indeed the Zinnia and Cosmos flowering madly outside my bedroom window. Far be it from me to tease you in such a hard-hearted manner. Continue reading