Welcome back travel buddies! Our first day in Thailand was a really tiring one, and after a really good sleep that night in Thaepae Happy House Hotel, both of us were ready to do our scheduled activity for the next day. Our day started at around 7AM, we had an early breakfast since we expect a full tiring day of various activities ahead of us, we were about to do the Mahout Training.
Around 8.30AM we were picked-up by the tour guide going to the Elephant Sanctuary for our Mahout Training. First we stopped at the Elephant PooPooPaper Park for about 20 minutes, where in Elephant’s poop are literally being used to make a brand new paper. In it, they showed the step by step procedure in making the environment friendly poo paper. We learned lots of things during our tour and at the end of it, tourists can design their own paper product souvenir such as poopoo bookmark, notebook, etc. They also sell paper made out of dung of horses, cows and buffalos.
Upon the arrival of the rest of the group in the poopoo paper park, we then went to the elephant sanctuary to do the much awaited Mahout Training. Just a bit of information on the Mahout Training, this training is intended for the tourists and not for the elephants. Unlike in other countries, elephants in Thailand are being respected, taken care of and are free to roam around the forest. The fee which they get from the said tour is being used for maintaining the area, food for the elephants and education of the tourists. Elephant maintenance is quite expensive, they eat a lot and if the forest where they live in no longer have any food they tend to stray to farms and cities making a huge devastation on both the elephant, for injuries, and Thai cities.
To be honest, we had some moral issues regarding this activity, we really don’t want to participate in any unkind treatment done towards this gentle creatures. The following things regarding the activity are explained towards the succeeding paragraphs.
Mahout is called for the elephant rider, trainer and keeper. In Thailand, one mahout is dedicated for one elephant. A mahout usually started as a boy when he was assigned an elephant to take care of, and they would remain that bond throughout their lives. Babies and newly rescued elephants from other countries are first brought to an elephant school in Thailand in order to learn the basic commands for elephants in the country. All elephants in Thailand know those basic commands. However, don’t ever try to approach elephants without their mahouts. Elephants, just like humans, have their own temperament and the mahout are more familiar with the character of their baby.
On doing this tour, individuals should definitely wear shoes that they don’t mind getting dirty. During our visit, the whole area of the mahout training was all muddy. Prior to starting the activity, the trainers provide a change of clothes for tourists in order to prevent ruining their clothes. Afterwards, a short briefing on what the tourist would expect, precautionary measures, and a brief history on the Elephant sanctuary were discussed.
The first activity we did was feeding the elephant. Elephants love bananas, the tour guides and mahouts brought with them lots of it. Imagine a humongous version of minions of Despicable Me that really love bananas. After that, comes the Elephant riding, tourists should be wary of the elephant that they will try to mount on. Ours happen to be a bit annoyed to carry us both, maybe perhaps due to our weight (LOL) or maybe the elephant knows that both of us are anxious of her. We almost fell, Irish were able to slide down her trunk and I were able to jump off her back. It was somewhat a frightening experience. (During this time we still aren’t aware that the camp we went in is not what we were looking for. Poor research on our part. Sorry guys.)
We had lunch after, a prepared lunch which was included in the tour. Then some trekking with the elephants up in the forest, afterwards the much awaited bathing of Elephants in the nearby river. They love water, and they tend to love the attention of humans giving them a bath. Around 3.30PM the whole activity ended. They gave us a CD that contains plenty of photos which they took during the activities. (got to look for that cd! There are some pics in it taken during the bathing!)
We did had a splendid time with the elephant interaction, however there is a highly suggested camp wherein all elephants are being treated way more kindly than the camp we visited. We suggest to book at Elephant Nature Park, for a more humane experience. Riding elephants are really a no (though the previous Kings does it on a white elephant).
Around 4.30PM we were back in our hotel. Just took a quick bath and away we went for the opening event of Chiang Mai festival in front of Thapae Gate. They had a thousand candle lighting in memory of the king. After taking some drone shots of the ceremony, we then went through the Thapae gate and went to the weekly Sunday night market of Chiang Mai. Lots of things were being sold in the market, such as lanterns, local clothing, wood carvings, food and a lot more. In every few block of the street, a small compound that comprises of different food stalls usually would come up. Don’t enter the compound near the Thapae gate since it is packed with lots of people, we realized that after entering the second and third compound. Gac fruit drink is a must try, that exotic fruit which both of us haven’t seen in the Philippines yet tastes like a mixture of orange and mango. After a few kilometers of endless number of stalls, we decided to go back to the hotel.
Near the hotel, we saw a tuktuk driver unloading some passengers, we hired him to tour us to the different temples around Chiang Mai the following day. We negotiated for a 5-hour day tour for 800 Baht, and agreed to fetch us at exactly 8AM. Which we found out to be cheaper by about 400 Baht from the price of local travel agencies.
We reached our hotel at around 9PM. Our shopping haul consists of: toy gun, three local pants, an electric lantern (Chiang Mai price: 150 Baht. Bangkok Price: around 500 Baht) and an assorted number of food in our stomach (Best Thai food trip!). Thai people loves sweet and spicy food, make sure to be cautious of one self’s blood sugar level when travelling in Thailand.
That concludes our second day in Thailand, elephants, candles and Thapae Sunday night market. Awesome! Make sure to read the next blog regarding our trip in Thailand and don’t forget to click that subscribe button on our YouTube channel!