Planning My Trip to Thailand
It’s May 2013. In May 2014 I hope to be in Thailand. That’s a year from now, and although some might say it’s too early to start planning, I’m too excited not to! Here are some of my reasons for the trip:
1. I’m a musician. But I absolutely love elephants. I always have. And I want to work with them, educate the public about them, raise awareness of their survival issues and capture their magnificent lives on film. I had the opportunity to live in South Africa in 2009 where I met many elephants in the Kruger and surrounding game reserves in the Mpumalanga region. I cried when I left them; I felt like I was supposed to be with them forever.
2. I don’t know a lot about Asian elephants. Most zoos in the U.S. keep Asian elephants, so naturally my first elephant encounter was with an Asian elephant at quite a young age. I’ve never seen them in their natural habitat, so this is my number one reason to visit Thailand. The experience gained from living with the elephants in South Africa made a permanent imprint of awe for elephants in my heart. I believe spending time in Thailand will do the same.
3. Travel runs through my blood. I can’t sit still, and so as I save my money this year, I look forward to the trip by living vaicariously through the trips of others. From my research there seem to be three great places to work with the elephants in Thailand: Elephant Nature Park, BEEs Ele-Sanctuary and BLES. (Below are photos and videos of both. And if YOU know of any other places, please comment below to aid in my plans. Thanks!)
So what do I hope to accomplish in Thailand? For starters, I want to see what’s going on with elephants. This means walking in cities and villages, where elephants and humans mingle together. That means spending quality time at sanctuaries where elephants are rescued from abuse and relationships between mahout and elephant are retaught in positive manners. This means visiting local markets and temples to experience the spiritual and practical relationship between elephant and humankind. This means NOT riding an elephant, no matter how tempting. It is damaging physically to the elephant and is not a way I want to encourage locals to earn an income. (I learned a lot about this by reading THIS TRAVEL BLOG about a family traveling to Thailand and THIS ONE on responsible tourism.)
As recent founder of Elephantopia, I am also seeking ways to support and partner with other organizations that are seeking a harmonious future for both elephants and humans. In this exploratory journey, I will be looking to see how this can be (and possibly how it currently is being) practically done.
It’s been said, “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” On this trip, I hope first and foremost to observe. To learn from Thailand: the people, the elephants, the country. For I believe that from observation, innovation for a better future for elephants and humans will emerge.
Video shared from volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park:[youtube=http://youtu.be/48zAoi__P8o]