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4 August 2014

Elephant Nature Park & Other Days

The baby
Thought I would update again to share more of my experience, from today we have a week left and it has been such an amazing trip, I love to travel and explore the area we are in so this is truly amazing!

We have visited many different places over the past week, including the elephant nature park (full review below), many different restaurants, temples, mountains and waterfalls, as well as meeting many more of Ploi's family. The history in Chiang Mai and it's surrounding areas is incredible and it is evident that family means a great deal, it is how family is supposed to be; they look out for one another, take care of one another and always stick together which ensures greater success from the strong support system.
Family does also not just mean blood, we have been welcomed in and many close friends over here are referred to as Ploi's sisters. We have had two amazing tour guides whilst we have been here which are Ploi's cousin Piyawatt and his friend Jin, they have shown us many of the top spots to visit - literally: we were on top of the mountain yesterday! And I have also felt like I've known them for years, it is amazing to come into a place and feel so accepted and so welcome immediately! Not to be cliche but a picture really is worth a thousand words so I will post the places we've been to at the bottom of the page so everyone can see for themselves what we have been up to!
My mum & I with an elephant
The highlight of my trip has definitely been visiting the Elephant nature park 
Thai Sunset
which a lady called Lek started, to rescue working elephants to allow them to live a cruelty free life, which is as natural as possible. The park is home to elephants as well as rescued cats, dogs & buffalo and was opened to tourists to help fund the project. During our day trip we got to feed the elephants, meet the baby ones, learn about all the elephants & their stories from our tour guide as well as a video and also bathe the elephants in the river. It was a truly amazing experience but also devastating day when you learn about what these wonderful animals have been through but also what every domesticated elephant is put through both before it works and during it's working life. All of these elephants have experienced so much pain in their lives and it is breathtaking what Lek's 'Elephant Haven' up in the mountain gives back to them. The elephants have a diet of bananas, corn, watermelon, pumpkin and bread, with slight variations for each animals specific need; baby and older ones need soft food, some need more sugar than others, and some elephants like their food cut up, whilst others will only consume it whole. Lek is also a vegetarian so our human lunch consisted of many different vegetarian dishes which were absolutely delicious! Each group has their own tour guide which speak great English and know everything you could possibly want to know about the elephants and more, the dogs also seemed to assign themselves to groups so we had a couple of dogs which went everywhere we did all day - seeing dogs & cats next to elephants is bizarre to me but they all share the wide open space in harmony. I can't possibly convey how amazing this experience was but if you are ever in Chiang Mai this is a must! What Lek is doing is beyond incredible and it was amazing to be able to support her by going on this trip, she also does not just stop at the nature park, but visits local communities giving them much needed free veterinary care for the villages' elephants; without her this would not be given, causing great harm and even more distress to these domesticated elephants who are forced to work endless hours. This was a once in a lifetime experience and it was just incredible, if you get the chance to do this, take it!

Cassidy xx

The Elephants' Lunch
A passion flower
Waterfall
Elephant

Me, My Grandad & Ploi
Temple
Peter 'Poser'
The Dam
Sunset
Insight