Category: Thailand


Koh Chang – Elephant Trekking

2012-12-10 12.57.10 2012-12-10 12.51.05 2012-12-10 12.09.17 2012-12-10 12.07.49 2012-12-10 12.21.31 2012-12-10 11.36.11

“This is something I’m going to remember until I’m 80 years old.”  Not sure what happens at 80, but that was high praise from our almost 6-year old after she emerged from her river swim with two elephants.

“Chang” means “elephant” in Thai, so we thought Koh Chang would make a fitting place for Z’s long-promised elephant trek.  I’d been disturbed by reports of mistreatment regarding the elephant trekking industry in Phuket, so was relieved to discover the Ban Kwan Chang camp on Koh Chang, which was established as an elephant sanctuary and is supported by the Asian Elephant Foundation.

We opted for the 2-hour tour, with the first hour devoted to a trek through a steamy rainforest and the second involving the opportunity to bathe and swim with two of the elephants. Our elephant was a 25-year old female named Numwan and I was relieved to see that our mahout handled her gently throughout the ride.  Jonathan spent the second half of the trek perched on Numwan’s massive neck while our mahout walked beside us snapping so many photos with my camera that even Z (a girl who never turns down a photo op) started to wonder when he would stop.  The ride was interesting, but I was more than ready to dismount after one hour atop our gentle giant.  Not the most comforting or relaxing of rides–can’t imagine exploring continents on one.

After the trek ended, we fed Numwan bunches of bananas (J’s iPhone came dangerously close to becoming a snack) and then said our farewells before heading to a nearby river with two of the other elephants.  After hearing the shrieks of surprise as bare skin hit the chilly waters, I volunteered to serve as videographer while J & Z stripped down to their bathing suits and jumped in.  Z donned her goggles and our little mermaid soon was swimming around the elephants and sitting on their backs, scrubbing them down and laughing at the surprise of an elephant trunk shower.

The camp could serve its purpose better if it focused a bit more energy on the education front, but all in all, it was a great experience.

Farewell Nai Yang

We are going to miss you.  In four short weeks, you began to feel like home.

SunsetonNaiYang

 

Z and I waved farewell to J’s plane from the pool this morning as he left for a quick sailing trip to Cairns, Australia.  (It may be a lot quicker if they don’t let him board his connecting flight in Singapore due to a slight visa stumble on our part)).  Thus, it is just me and Miss Z for the next 5 days so loads of opportunity for mother-daughter bonding (I see some manis and pedis in our future).

The last few days have been filled with beach, pool, beach, pool, work, further exploration of the island (went to Bang Tao Beach and Cape Panwa) and (most importantly for me!) steady progress on The Count of Monte Cristo (fabulous book, but one on which I’ve made frustratingly slow progress during this trip).   Am now at 85% on my Kindle!

A few nights ago we introduced Z to the world of Bond with Skyfall, at a Central Phuket cinema.  The Thai royal anthem played to a video montage of King Rama IX’s life before the film started and we stood along with the rest of the audience (failure to do so can result in criminal charges of lèse majesté)!  J informs me that the playing of “God Save the Queen” also used to be de rigueur before every movie in the UK–seemed strange to me initially, but it really is no different than our mandatory Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.  Some quick Wiki research informed me Rama IX is the world’s longest serving head of state (at 66 years 150+ days he has six years on QE II).   Z’s verdict of the movie: She likes the “spy who never dies”.

Other excitement for the week involved J erupting in a severe first case of hives two nights ago. Cause unknown. Primary suspect–shrimp.  Fortunately, Thai pharmacies here freely dispense predisone without a doctor’s prescription so we are hoping that does the trick.  And we thought we only had to worry about mozzies and jellyfish.

Finally, am thrilled that we don’t have to spend the next 10 months of world travel justifying a President Romney.

Some random photos from the past week:

Baby elephant on Bang Tao Beach

The Thais aim to please

Zara teaching her class

Thai sundresses

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