While Jordan and I were on our honeymoon in Thailand, we really wanted to spend time with elephants. We talked to friends and did a little research and found of that the one thing you should NOT do is ride the elephants. Many of the elephants in Thailand have been in the tourist entertainment industry since birth. They've been performing in shows or just out in the streets giving tourists rides on their backs day in and day out. I'm sure these big guys and gals are strong enough to handle one human riding on them every once in while, but day after day, hour after hour? That's got to wear on their bodies in a severe way.
So, it was important to Jordan and I that we find an elephant excursion that treated the elephants responsibly and we think Blue Daily Elephant Care is doing a pretty great job! We found this excursion through our hotel concierge and had such a fun day! The Blue Daily Elephant Care van picked us and 3 other couples up from our hotels and then drove about an hour into the mountains. The driver, also our guide for the day, told us about the elephants on our way to the sanctuary. There was one male, four females, and one brand new baby elephant!
When we arrived, our guide let us all go into the pen with the new momma and baby. We were all really hesitant to go up and pet the baby. So we all hung back for a few minutes until the guide told us we really could go up and pet the momma and baby - that it was totally fine! He told us to sit on the tires inside the pen, and the baby would come up and play with us. So Jordan tried it out first, and the baby was really playful! His name is Valentine because he was born in February and he acted just like a really big puppy would! He came up to jordan and nuzzled his chest and even tried to sit in Jordan's lap! haha
Then we went to visit the other 3 females and the male. We had the option to put on special shirts that are the same colors all the workers wear. It helps the elephants identify you as someone nice.
All the handlers were sitting in the shade and each started calling out to his elephant by name. The elephants know their handler's voice and what different calls mean, and this call meant "come get a snack!" so all the elephants hurried over and stood behind a wooden bar in a line. We all had bowls of sugar cane and corn husks.
Our guide taught us to say "Bon!" and lift our hands high in the air, which told the elephants to "open wide!" and they would lift their trunks and open their mouths so we could put a snack right in their mouths haha. It was really fun! After a few minutes, though, the elephants started getting tired of that trick and just used their trunks to reach into the bowls we had and grab their own snacks! I was petting the one male elephant and didn't even realize he was being sneaky and had his trunk in my basket vacuuming up ALL the snacks in there! I had to run away so he wouldn't take them all!
But even after we all backed up, the elephants just walked AROUND the scrawny wooden bar they were behind and came after the food anyway! I was laughing so hard and so was everyone else. We thought it was so funny that they were getting sneaky and that they stopped caring about the little bar they were behind! ;)
One of the female elephants had been in the circus all her life before coming to the sanctuary, so she knew a few tricks. So after snacks, she showed us some! Like a hug and a kiss and putting on a hat. It was so cute and those didn't seem harmful to her at all. At the end, without anyone prompting her, she did a "thank you" pose where she curled her trunk back on top of her head and lifted up her front legs. It was really sweet that she wanted to do that on her own!
Next, the elephants went back to roaming their field while we prepared snacks for them to eat later in the day. We mashed up rice and other foods to make ball-shaped snacks. They had to dry in the sun for a few hours, so we all took a lunch break.
After lunch, we took the elephants on a walk to a nearby river. The elephants loved the walk, but were moving soooo slowly. We kept having to wait for them because they stopped and snacked on the tree leaves the whole way!
When we finally made it to the water, the elephants loooooved it! They all got in and sprayed water in the air, showering themselves. The handlers gave us plastic buckets to splash water on them too and it turned into a big water fight! Some of them elephants even sunk all the way into the water, with just their noses poking out for air. Jordan laid on the belly of the male elephant while he rested in the water and I thought that it looked so sweet!
The elephants headed back and our guide told all of us to stay and play in the water, so we climbed on rocks and went further up the river, just hangin out with each other. It was so fun!
We got on the trail again and caught up with the elephants pretty quickly! Even though they had left us about 30 minutes earlier. They had just been grazing in this one forested area that was little bit raised (about 5-10 feet) from the trail we were all walking on.
We were all mozying and talking to each other, watching the elephants graze when the male elephant decided to come down to the trail to meet us all. But it was at least a 5 foot drop from where he was, to where we were! And we all saw it coming... we were all telling him to go back around! Go back where you entered the forested area and then walk around the trail to meet us, but NOPE he wanted to be with us RIGHT THEN, so he skooched his way down slowly, then he started sliding and we all ran out of the way, as he slid down the 5 foot drop and bumped into a tree. He took the whole tree down with him! H and the tree landed on the trail with a loud THUMP!
But he got right up and seemed to be okay! and started walking with us. Then all the ladies followed, but they did it the smarter way and went out where they had come in and just caught up with us on the trail... haha boys will be boys I guess - always taking the more risky route!
When we got back to the Blue Daily Elephant Care Sanctuary, we fed them the snacks we had made earlier, spent a little more time with them and the baby Valentine, and then headed back home!
We had such a great day and Chang Mai is probably our favorite town that we visited in Thailand, partly because of that experience! We're not sure if we would ever go back to Thailand, but if we did, Chang Mai is the place we'd go. And they say elephants remember everything, so I wonder if these elephants would remember us if we ever came back!
Thanks for stopping by!
- bousman babe