I’m going to start off by saying that I could talk about elephants and this experience for days and days. This was by far one of the best experiences I have ever had and I will do whatever I can to put this into words and fully describe just how wonderful this was. This will probably be a few days worth of posts to fully describe the entire excursion and how I felt. Here it goes.
I knew that I wanted to be around elephants the first time I went to Thailand in 2012 and I have to say that I was naive and didn’t really understand how elephants were treated. I feel so bad writing this and putting that down permanently to let people know that as a former vegetarian, I was uninformed and didn’t realize what elephants went through to be trained to allow humans to ride them. This time around, I had learned my lesson and made the conscience decision that I would not ride an elephant on this trip. Instead, I wanted to go to the Elephant Nature Park just an hour and a half outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had actually seen videos of this part before I knew that they did excursions and had various activities that you could do that would allow for you to interact with the elephants so I needed to ensure that this happened. When we were booking our excursions, we thoroughly read through each activity and decided upon one that was titled “Pamper a Pachyderm.” I wasn’t entirely sure what this day would entail, but according to the website I knew that we would get to walk with elephants, we would feed them and we would bathe them. Other than that, there weren’t a lot of descriptions or a lot of information on this type of excursion really entailed but I didn’t care because I knew that I was going to hang out with an elephant.
The day that we were ready to go on our excursion, we woke up super early to get breakfast at the hotel before we left. We ate some delicious freshly made food with fresh fruit and tried very hard to contain our excitement but honestly, there wasn’t really any way we could. After we were done, we were out by the front of the hotel at 8AM sharp to ensure that we didn’t miss our shuttle to the Elephant Nature Park. We were standing out there and there was actually another group that showed up waiting to go to the same place but what we didn’t realize was that there were different shuttles for different excursions and we would be having our own separate shuttle to a different part of the park. Our shuttle eventually showed up, we boarded and then drove around the the rest of the city to pick up the remainder of group which ended up being 10 people in total.
On the ride out there, you’re given a chance to watch a video on the elephants that are at the park along with get some history as to why these elephants are at the park. Knowing the very minimal information that I did know, watching this video was definitely because we were getting insight into how these elephants were treated and the torture that they go through to be the animals that we see walking around the streets or being a part of various types of industries. It was definitely a hard thing to watch and process, especially knowing that I had previously ridden an elephant the first time I had been in Thailand.
As we got closer and closer to the park, we were able to see some of the other riding camps that were in the area and it was definitely an interesting comparison to where we were heading off to. Knowing that we were heading off to a place where elephants are free to roam as they please and are treated super well, but then driving past places that had elephants with wooden seats tied to their backs and people sitting on them just a few miles away from the nature park was definitely a harsh reality. We continued our drive past the riding camps and eventually made our way to a small turn off where we saw four giant elephants just hanging in a field. It was time for our excursion.