So here is the first blog in the series about all of the projects that take part here in my little part of thailand; I think I will start off looking at the elephant project as this is the one that I did as a volunteer and has a particular place in my heart.
Whilst on the the Elephant Project you will be living in a traditional Thai elephant village working along side people who have generations of experience working with these beautiful and intelligent creatures.
There is nothing like living in a Thai household with a friendly caring family, seeing how real Thai people live and work as well as eating the worlds most delicious food. Nothing compares to properly cooked Thai food, the mouthwatering chicken, the crunchy fresh vegetables and the locally grown rice that binds everything together.
I can assure you that the food is even more satisfying after you have worked for it; and I mean work for it. A normal day at the elephant village consists of an early start where you and your fellow volunteers will work locally or travel to another village (depending on the season) and cut down banana trees, palm leaves, sugar cane and even coconuts in order to feed the several elephants that we work with in the village. Now this might not sound to hard but elephants eat 20-30KGS of food a day and we don’t just have one elephant to get food for.
You tend to spend a few hours gathering food, getting sweaty and carrying more than you think you ever could, after this you get to drive back to your home stay sat atop your morning harvest; now I can’t even begin to describe how accomplished and proud it makes you feel that you managed to chop down and carry over 10 foot banana trees.
One of the most amazing feelings in the world is the shower you get after a mornings work. To be able to wash of the sap and dirt and for an instant not be covered in sweat, there is nothing else like it.
After that you will have lunch which is always typical Thai food, as hot and spicy as you like it. Now I don’t like spicy food at all and I still had the most amazing food that I have ever eaten whilst on the elephant project. If you are vegetarian, vegan or have any particular likes and dislikes we can cater completely for that so don’t think that because you can’t eat spicy food or chicken that you can’t come out to Thailand.
Now, after lunch is the time that everyone looks forward to the most. This is the time where memories are made and the months of saving to get here finally come to fruition. Now is the time that you get to ride and swim with the elephants. I can prattle on about how wonderful it is and how amazing it feels to be able to do such an incredible thing but some cynics out there might think I am a little bias so here are some testimonies from people who have been on the elephant project in the last few weeks.
‘It was great fun and loved my coordinators and fellow volunteers. The work was hard but made my time with the elephants and other activities feel deserved. Just be prepared to get dirty and get involved!’
‘I had the most amazing time here, and made some great friends too. I’d seriously recommend this to anyone, as it really is a once in a lifetime experience that will give you memories to cherish.’
‘Highlights – swimming with the elephant and learning to control them. This experience has allowed me to get an insight of how Mahouts live and work. It has been a real experience and I’ve really enjoyed it. So sad to be leaving!’
The evenings at the elephant village are some of the most peaceful and crazy times I have had in Thailand. It is so relaxing to just swing in one of the hammocks reading a book or running up and down the street chasing the kids that love to come and play after school. There is never nothing to do in the village; wether it be teaching english through play with the kids, chasing the baby elephant who lives in the garden or trying to learn Thai from your hosts.
I know I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t come out to see and work with our amazing elephants but if you need any more convincing, which I know you don’t, or want to see any photos, or get any more information then take a look at our
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto