First off, let me just tell you that I’m obsessed with elephants. I literally have watched every David Attenborough documentary out there and sob like a baby each time these majestic animals make an appearance on screen. When I saw that our itinerary was to include a full day at an elephant sanctuary, I literally lost it (Coco can attest to this).
And then, today came. I told our tour manager not to fret if I break down into tears because they would of course be those of happy ones. And, let me tell you, I cried thrice. Once at the beginning, quietly by myself; secondly while we rode them (again, quietly by myself, behind a mean dark pair of shades); and lastly when we had to say our goodbyes (the elephants literally waved goodbye…COME ON).
The Elephant Life Experience is an experience that I believe everyone should try to have the opportunity to do. These animals, despite their size, are the most gentle, sweet creatures that I have ever had the pleasure to have spent time with. We were given the resort to ourselves and were able to experience all of the activities available. These included: a solo bareback ride along the river, a one on one painting session with the unbelievably talented elephants (I was able to do a painting with an elephant by the name of Tong Poon in rasta colours), and lastly a ride on top of the elephants in a wooden seat into the jungle.
These activities with the elephants were followed by a packed lunch by the Four Seasons Hotel, Chiang Mai, and an extremely tranquil 30 minute ride down the river on a bamboo raft.
Seeing as elephants are by far my favourite animal, this was the most incredible experience of my life. I cannot stress enough that a trip to Chiang Mai, or even Thailand for that matter, without meeting one of these gentle souls may be a trip wasted. I know this post is corny as hell, but I haven’t felt this much joy through another being (besides my nieces and nephews and BEN of course) in my life. This is up there, my friends, and I highly recommend you visit Elephant Life Experience at least once in your lifetime.
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PS: Just in case you may feel bad that the elephants are being used for tourism revenues or are mistreated, that’s not the case. For centuries, elephants in Thailand were used in battle and helped the Thai people in clearing the land. Since there is not as much land to be cleared anymore, and the only land that is being cleared nowadays is on the border where landmines are, this is what the Thai people have found that is safe and that the elephants actually enjoy doing. They are kept in great conditions in the wild, grow familial relationships with their designated mahouts, and have something to do rather than be a spectacle at, say a circus, or some other sideshow. Never mind being in a zoo as they recently were in the cold climate of Toronto. I was able to ask questions and observe closely to how they were treated and commanded, and I can attest that it was all done with grace and kindness. I am grateful to this country to allow me to have such an experience and I will never forget it for the rest of my days.