Christmas Eve was quite different this year. Instead of being in Boston dreaming of sugar plums and reindeer, I was in Thailand, eating sugar cane and playing with elephants. I definitely miss family, but this was as sweet as Mom's homemade butterhorns!
Yesterday, I spent my day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. It's a rehab center for mistreated elephants. In case you didn't know, the elephant tourism industry is quite controversial. You can watch this video about the dark side of riding elephants.
This sanctuary buys elephants from tour companies and gives them a better life! And they bring in tourists to play with them, feed them and bathe them. These gentle giants are really really kind, and they too, love Christmas.
We rode in the back of a truck which is a typical taxi here in Thailand. (Not to be confused with Tuk-Tuks, which are smaller, open-air rickshaw type taxis.)
It was 1.5 hours each way, but they gave us free water!
The group consisted of: Abby (Vermont)
Abe (Pittsburgh, but originally from India)
Derrick (Los Angeles)
Derryl (Los Angeles)
And, Natalie (Luxembourg)
Once we got to the sanctuary, we had to put on these snazzy shirts. They need you to wear similar clothing as the caretakers so the elephants know you're friendly.
I was pretty pleased with the color scheme of my shirt, since it matched my red tee n sneaks.
Then, we got schooled on how to approach the elephants. Do's n don'ts. Here is Abby and I not listening to the instructions.
Naw, I'm kidding, we were dialed in. I am not one of those people that takes wild animals lightly. Don't wanna get stomped or smushed.
AND, more importantly, you need to know eleph-elfie etiquette. Here is my eleph-elfie.
Just in case you wanted to see my eleph-elfie from a different angle, Abe got you covered:
And, maybe you want more eleph-elfies? Better quality wide angle eleph-elfies? I got you.
Here are a bunch of snaps of my friends feeding and chillin' w the ellies:
CRUNCH!!! These ellies eat bananas and sugar cane stalks. It's wild to hear them CRUNCH on the sugar cane, crushing it like it wasn't even a thang.
This is me, cautiously feeding, and petting the gentle, GINORMOUS animals.
Petting the elephants was throwin' me super weird! It feels like you're rubbing a spongy piece of staircase anti-slip grip tape, with wire bristles coming out of it. I definitely wouldn't want to snuggle or spoon with an ellie.
After the feeding, we went down to the mud pit, where everyone was encouraged to jump in n get dirty with the ellies. I opted to take photos. Not because I'm afraid to get dirty, I just wanted to take pics.
And then I saw this and think I made the right choice:
After ~7 mins, they led the ellies down to the river, and this time I got in and splish-splashed with em! (You have to watch the video to see me)
After a good swim, what do they want to do? Get dirty again.
But, they're not just showering themselves with dirt because they want to get dirty. It's a defensive move. Filling their pores with dirt helps them avoid tick bites when they sleep at night. Smart thinkin' fellas!
Here's one of the staff clownin' w the ellie---he held the trunk up to his ear like he was answering a phone call! LOL
Just a snap of one of 'em roamin' off in the distance.
I gotta say it was a good day. The views were gorgeous.
And, the experience was unforgettable.
It was pretty hot out there, and on the way back, we were zonked. Snoozin' in the ole truck.
Without further adieu, here is the video I made for you! It is ~6:40. Hope you enjoy! Merry Christmas!