Today was just one of those days we’ll remember for the rest of our life. We’re still in Chiang Mai, which is a real laidback city, but after walking around for a couple of days, you get the drill – which I think applies for most large cities (although I personally could never get enough of Paris, or New York for that matter). Normally we’re the type of people that do their own thing in their own time and place, but for now we decided to play tourist for one day. Thailand is the country to visit the elephants (Thai means ‘white elephant’), so that was our number one activity, besides visiting the Tiger Kingdom. Originally we wanted to go to Tiger Temple just outside Bangkok, but after some research (Tiger Kingdom vs Tiger Temple) we quickly found out that the one in Chiang Mai is the better option, and a bonus is that it was just one hour away from the city in contrast to the three and a half hour ride to Tiger Temple from Bangkok. For the elephants we needed a more thorough research, especially because I find it immensely disturbing if the animals are all chained up and have to perform all sorts of tricks. We did find something that should’ve lived up to our animal-friendly expectations, so when we stepped in the taxi – with the driver that drove us from the airport to the hotel and was armed with two books with personal written customer recommendations of his tours that got us convinced – we were all prepared to go. The minute we got into the taxi the driver had a different kind of idea with regard to the elephant place, which made me even more sceptical because the drivers normally just care about their commission. We did accept his offer to go to the other place after he tried to reassure us (didn’t do it for me though…). When we arrived our first impression was actually a good one because of the few tourists walking around the property. Also the animals were in good shape – as far as the untrained eye can see – and we got a really nice (well speaking English) guide that toured us around the elephant farm. Thank you Pon (driver’s name) for pushing through!

First we changed in different clothes – best outfit on the blog so far right – and we were asked to make shampoo to wash the elephant later. After that we went to meet our elephant for the day by feeding him and get comfortable around him. This also meant hopping on and off in al kinds of ways, which for me didn’t seem like such a great idea (they are so unbelievably huge!), but after the guide trying to convince me for 15 minutes I took the plunge. And it was great! We drove around on his bare back, gave him a bath and drove around some more. It’s such an amazing experience, one like no other. We even got certified at the end of the trip meaning we completed the Mahout training (Mahout is an elephant care-taker). For everyone who comes to Chiang Mai and wants to visit an elephant camp go to the Panda Tour – although the name is a bit confusing. All the elephants in the camp have been working up in the mountains and are liberated by the tribe (by encouragement of the government) and living with them since.

I’m saving the tigers for the next post, that way it’s more to look forward to right!

For more information about the Panda Tour Elephant Camp go to www.pandatourchiangmai.com

1 comment :

  1. Looks great! And of course, Juliette is very jealous of your elehpant journey ;-)