Elephants and Christmas Cheer

My job is pretty hard. I work 50+ hours a week and spend most of those hours wrangling rambunctious 2 year olds. It’s exhausting and demanding. But that’s the downside. The upside is that I am doing something I generally enjoy, working with amazing people, at a job full of great perks. One of those perks is getting to do stuff for free because the parents of our students tend to be pretty wealthy. For example, the elephant park.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is one of the more reputable elephant parks in Chiang Mai. Whether or not it’s truly ethical is unclear, I don’t know all the nuances of the elephant world…but it seems to be. They rescue elephants from cities and other parks, so said our guide, and give them a place to live where they are fed and protected and not abused, and nobody’s riding them or making them paint pictures with their trunks. Which seems to leave the elephants there happy enough. The place (and all its 8 locations) is owned by a family whose daughter attends our school.

I’ve heard a lot about this and other elephant parks in the past year of living here, but I’ve never had much of a desire to visit one. Elephants are cool and all, but I just have never felt the need to touch one. Or go anywhere near one. Ever.

And yet, that’s exactly what I did.

We were picked up from Hang Dong, where my school is, at 7am (on a Sunday…) and rode in the back of truck for 90 minutes to the park. Thankfully I packed Dramamine, or I’m fairly certain my boss Amy would have puked on me. Rough times.

We spent the morning feeding the elephants, petting them, trying not to get stepped on by them, and then came the mud. The guides tried telling me I needed to get changed to get ready to give the elephants a mud bath. Clearly they didn’t know me well enough…that’s a definite no thanks from me.

I took up the role of group photographer and stayed far away from the mud and water and giant rolling elephants, which suited me much better.

After all this ended and we were getting ready to go, the driver told us that the owner had just called him and told him to take us to another area to see their newborn elephant. This little guy was only 1 month old and he was so cute. I didn’t care for the large elephants at all, but the little one was cute. Even though he did try to run me over.

Overall a really fun day. It was great hanging out with my coworkers outside of school.

We had a 3 day weekend this weekend in honor of Father’s Day/the King’s birthday. Instead of going to work today, I spent the day hanging out with friends, and doing Christmas crafts and eating tacos. Not a bad way to spend a day.

My life maintains its hectic schedule and I begin to savor even more the quiet moments I have to myself. The next several weeks will involve a lot of visitors, holiday celebrations, and sweet reunions. But for now, I’m enjoying the quiet cool of the early morning as winter arrives in Chiang Mai. (It’s 66 degrees at 6am and feels like the artic circle to me).

View on the drive
Very skeptically feeding an elephant a banana

How i really felt about feeding the elephant

1 month old baby with its momma
1 month old baby with its new momma
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