Chasing Elephants

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You know you have a serious backlog of posts when you find photos from last year that have not gone up… oops.

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Many months ago I participated in a volunteering trip to Thailand as part of a Uni extracurricular kind of thing. My uni involvements and thus resume was really lacking you see. (Probably because I hate uni). But this activity promised travel so I was intrigued.

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I actually had no idea what I was getting into since the “society” that was organising these volunteering trips didn’t exactly do a good job (insert several plane ticket mix ups) and I myself had actually chosen to go to Nepal but didn’t get first preference. As fate would have it this definitely, definitely worked out for the best.

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This was my first official international trip overseas, on an actual plane without adult supervision … unless you count my “leader” who was 21 but kept insisting that she was just a volunteer like us, not a leader. Home sickness set in fast. I sat on the plane and fought the urge to tear up. I don’t even know why it happened. Suddenly, I just thought shit I’m leaving without my mum. It didn’t help that out of the 2 flights there, both times I sat on my own, while the rest of the group got to sit together or at least had a partner. That’s okay! One must learn to be independent I mumbled to myself.

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Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park

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And off we went! We stayed at a “hotel” which was totally overhyped. It was more a motel at best but it’s extraordinary how fast volunteering can change your perspective. After 2 weeks of cold outdoor showers, bug infested rooms (even beds), we longed for the motel so badly; its air conditioning, clean sheets, spacious room, reception and the wonderful, constantly collapsing but existent wifi.

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So what did we do? The first week, we were sent to help out at a rescue elephant park where we did all the things you would expect: got to wash the elephants (a fun activity to draw you in before really getting down to laborious duties), scooped poop, planted grass and trees, dug up grass (why? don’t actually remember) and prepared elephant food.

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Which might I add included chopping down what felt like 5 freaking acres of corn in the burning sun. I being a spoilt, privileged child pretty much died after finishing one acre with my group. Then we had to lug the bundles we made onto the truck. I, trudging and tripping over potholes and the weight of the bundle probably successfully moved 10/100 bundles. I then watched in awe as the farmers heaved 5 large bundles on one shoulder and transported them to the truck. We were then told that half a day’s work and total drainage of our energy, was one meal for all the elephants at the park. It was so very inspiring (sarcasm intended).

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1hr in
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Several eternities later (realistically: 3hrs approx)

Nevertheless I had never had more fun in my life. I crossed off many firsts including riding on the back of a truck (as well as the top of a truck), touching an elephant (man are they hairy), floating down poo coloured water on a tire (trust me, it’s so much fun). Many of which were only possible due to a super lenient and lovely park guide who put up with our total utter immaturity and at times verging on rudeness.

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Not to mention the elephant park was littered with several dozen rescue cats and dogs. An absolute dream for me since I’m not allowed pets. It was actually heaven. I had a cat and dog fight for the corner space on my bed (which was so scary) but eventually it was first in first serve … never felt so loved in my life. My friend (but after this incident, acquaintance) even accidentally stepped on a dog but the dog just whimpered and didn’t bite at all. If it was me I probably would have mauled the guy, so rude.

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▷1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing,
Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

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Chasing Elephants

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