I was nervous. It was my birthday. I had bought myself a really expensive “ethical elephant experience”. I had just spent 2 hours on a scooter from Patong to Phang Nga. What if it wasn’t ethical, and it was just as horrible as every other tourist attraction? What if I get there and don’t like what I see? What if? What if?
I relayed my worries to Matt. He was worried too, but hadn’t wanted to say it to me. As we scooted into the park, I started to relax a little. The elephants weren’t chained, and they seemed at ease. Deep breaths Monique, have some faith in people.
I was so happy to find that Phang Nga Elephant Park was everything I wanted and more.
My birthday was spent with my new best friend Tang Thai; one of the elephants rescued from logging and now living at the Phang Nga Elephant Park. This ethically run park not only works on rescuing elephants and giving them an easy, healthy life, but also works to teach loggers who aren’t ready to change their lifestyle to look after their elephants. The park is run by a Thai family, a lot of volunteers (mainly from England) and the mahouts, and supported by places like London Zoo.
During the day we got to feed the elephants a banana snack; they eat about 10 of their body weight per day which is about 300kg of food. Matt and I were trying to keep up feeding hungry Srisuk, while Tang Thai was being cheeky with the camera.
Tang Thai was so affectionate. Elephants really are like big, slow, hungry dogs. She was always coming over for pats and attention, and followed her mahout everywhere. The bond between the elephant and her mahout was amazing to witness. So gentle with each other. When a Thai person becomes a mahout its a life long commitment. These domesticated elephants really can’t survive without somewhere like this looking after them.
After every jungle walk the elephants are scrubbed down to ensure they stay clean, free of bugs and so their skin doesn’t dry out and crack. Matt and I couldn’t believe how much they loved the water!
Check out my video below for photos of the day!