~ This story was first published on World Nomads. ~
“This is a story about my experience with the natural beauty of Thailand, Thai culture and people. But mainly this is a story about a beautiful creature named LD, a baby elephant I met while traveling in Thailand. She was just 32 days old when I met her, but held lifetimes of love and joy in her heart.
It was the end of November and I had been in Thailand for just under a week. Among other experiences, the week had been filled with a very long overseas flight, loud traffic in the streets of Bangkok, sketchy hostel stays and awkward attempts to properly request vegan meals from street food vendors. I had been reading about all the beautiful temples and breathtaking natural sites in northern Thailand for weeks and weeks prior to my trip. I had been looking at the all gorgeous beach photos shared all over the internet lusting to be there. I had even attempted to learn a few phrases in Thai, but the locals would just stare at me with a half smirk and what I first thought to be full on judgement while I’d end up finishing my statements in English. It had only been a few days, but I had experienced so much! And I was tired, so tired. I had not slept a full 8 hours length since I left home, that place that seemed so distant on the other side of the world…
I had made flexible plans to head up north from Bangkok, eventually making my way up to Chiang Mai. I had read so much about this place, supposedly being the hip spot in northern Thailand. And once I got there I found that it was, sort of… After an overnight train ride I made it there bright and early, with no set plans of where I was going to stay. Upon arrival I felt overwhelmed and a little lost among all other backpackers, mostly from northern Europe. Secretly I wanted to blend in and pretend I was local, but I sure did not. Deep down, all I wanted was to learn the culture, to better understand it and experience it.
After wandering the streets of Chiang Mai for 2 days, I decided it was time to make it up to the hill tribes, the place where the true locals were. And the place where the elephants were… After a lot of research I found a place that really cares about the elephants, and the native people there. My visit was a frozen day in time that I will never forget. I got to spend all day with the sweetest group of elephants caring for them, bathing them and feeding them. Words cannot describe how much love and happiness those creatures emit.
That was one day I will never forget. That was one day that when I felt most at home, away from home! ”
This place that I visited is called Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai Thailand. Eco-travel and animal rights is a topic of high importance to me so I always research places that offer encounters with wildlife to assure their ethical practices. From my research and personal experience I found that EJS does just that. Even though this post was in no way sponsored, solicited, or even asked for by the organization, I felt inspired to share it with the world to help other travelers and animal lovers in their research as well.
One of the most common issues that is encountered in Thailand and other countries with, what we may consider, exotic animals is the tourist entertainment offers for animal riding or circus type animal performance. These types of performances have a great negative impact on the health, well-being and longevity of the animals, hence they are highly non-advisable even though some places try to convince tourists otherwise. This is a topic of great controversy so I highly recommend doing your own research from various sources before making decisions and bookings. I was fully satisfied with my experience at this place, hence I decided to share this post. If it perked your interest you are welcome to learn more on their website.
I hope you enjoyed this sharing, and above all I hope that you explore our beautiful planet with a light foot and an open heart! The elephant story as well the rest of my experience traveling around Thailand and southeast Asia will be continued on other future posts…