Ok, so wow I really need to get this stuff blogged so I don't forget about it. You have a year to write thank-yous for wedding gifts though, right? So I still have time to write about our honeymoon, amiright?
|You can see she's missing an ear 😔|
Okay, Day 1 - arrival, Day 2 - Bangkok, Day 3 - Chiang Mai and exploring, Day 4 - ELEPHANT NATURE PARK.
|look at front left leg|
I'd also just like to note that this was a really special day for me for two reasons. Number one, we were interacting with rescued elephants, but number two, it was on August 4. August 4 is (was) my Aunt's birthday. She passed away in 2010, and my sister and I were very close with her so we have a trip every August on over her birthday to celebrate and remember her. This year, obviously, I wasn't with my sister, but it meant it a lot to me to be doing something like this and remembering her. [past trips: London -2011, Ireland - 2012, Iceland - 2013, Turks & Caicos - 2014, St. Pete - 2015 (weird year bc of wedding!), Vienna - 2016 (March - we moved trip up because of honeymoon and I was over there for a law school thing anyways)/ Thailand]
Fortunately, in the past few years my eyes have been very much opened to the terrible existence that is animals in captivity. Unfortunate because I want to spend my life interacting with animals (I might still visit animals in zoo without meaning to (busch gardens, anyone)) but after watching documentaries like The Cove and Blackfish, I just knew it's not in me to pay money to torture animals anymore. There are a lot of blog posts on why you shouldn't ride elephants or swim with dolphins, so I don't feel like I need to elaborate here, but needless to say - DONT DO IT. Please, don't do it. And if you are considering doing it, please comment here and I will do my damndest to convince you otherwise.
This is especially true in Asia, where animals (elephants + big cats), I mean, their lives are just horrible. So, I started researching alternative animal excursions and was so relieved to find that we could visit an elephant sanctuary and still interact with the animals and see them up close, but not perpetuate the industry.
Elephant Nature Park rescues elephants (and dogs and cats). The elephants have been formerly used for riding, logging, circuses, painting, etc. Did you know elephants can be blinded by bright lights? And then they are marched around crowded Thai cities at night, being blinded by car lights. It's horrifying.
So, we spent the day at this park. We started off the day by feeding Candy chunks of watermelon and other fruit. It was so cool! Then we our guide took us around to different groups of elephants and told us about their stories. We saw a baby elephant (!!) omg he was so cute. Do you know how hard it is not to run up and hug a baby elephant because you're warned they're much stronger than they look. Wahhh!! But I WANT to!
One thing, and not really specific to ENP, but damnnn was it hot. I don't think August is even the hottest month to visit SE Asia, because it's "Monsoon" season (I think April/May is the hottest time of year to go), but being dehydrated was a major concern of mine so I made sure to drink tons of water and nagged Felipe about it all day erryday. Luckily, we went through a travel agent so we were picked up in mini a/c-ed vans and provided with water at some of our hotter spots, but phewwww was I sweating!
They provided an AWESOME VEGETARIAN lunch buffet for us (love that it was a vegetarian lunch, even though I'm not a vegetarian because it really hammered home the point that they are about animal welfare.)
After lunch we went to the river to bathe them! How awesome! This was definitely a tricky situation as it was super muddy and rocky on the bottom, but, so awesome. You may have seen a viral video of a man getting "swept" down the river and the elephant chasing after him -- this was at ENP!
|shirt here (but I think there's nothing listed at time of publishing)|
We also observed them getting some more snacks, and it was so cute with the combo of the baby elephant and the dogs running around (they have rescued over 400 dogs who were abandoned in Bangkok after massive flooding. They also have a "cat kingdom" for rescued cats which we didn't see).
|snack time! (baby elephant hidden in there)|
At the end of the day, it DID actually start monsooning -- one of the only days it did -- but it was actually a great relief from the heat, and I didn't mind.
Overall, this was an AMAZING experience that I can't say enough good things about. Everyone should consider visiting an elephant sanctuary or risk being judged by me if you choose to ride an elephant.😛 (<<-- omg how long has it been since I've blogged that there are now emojis).
Have you ever visited an animal sanctuary? Would you? Do you research how animals are treated before visiting an "animal" attraction? How do you decide whether or not to do it? (so many questions because I genuinely need.to.know.)