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  • Writer's pictureThe Six Wanderers

Elephant Sanctuary

Our time here is slowly coming to an end, and we have been using what little time we have left to slowly transition into “normal life.”

As my mom warned me when we last talked: there might me a little adaptation needed once we are back home, and some kind of void from the lack of everyday adventures... maybe, but as Laura Ingalls Wilder once said:

“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”

And here’s another quote I like:

“Leisure, it must be clearly understood, is a mental and spiritual attitude-it is not simply the result of external factors, it is not the inevitable result of spare time, a holiday, a weekend or a vacation. It is, in the first place, an attitude of mind, a condition of the soul...For leisure is a receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude, and it is not only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the whole of creation.”- Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Surely it is easy to see leisure as something only accessible when you are away from home and in a warmer setting, but this “contemplative attitude” is something I strive to achieve even when we are living in the deep Canadian woods surrounded by inches of snow! And I must admit that we are slowly starting to long for the familiar, even for the snow of our beautiful Canadian winters!

Jeremie has gone to work a few days already this week, and we have stayed behind working on our reading skills, reading aloud “Tua and her elephant” or listening to audiobooks and finally braving the coolness of the pool! And it has been good!

As much as there is wanderlust in the depth of my soul, there is also a longing for slow and restful living. As much as I love exploring new cities and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’m also a homebody who enjoys a hot cup of tea in the company of a good friend!

We had promised one thing to the kids before we left... We have a monthly subscription to the “Wild Explorers Club” magazine, and the kids had seen another homeschooling family in there visiting Thailand but more precisely an elephant sanctuary and somehow that stuck with them...If you were to ask Norah before we left where she was going, she would have replied: “swimming with elephants!”

We kind of feel bad that it took us this long to make it happen, but we also had read a few horrible stories on elephants being mistreated in certain camps... we know that no camp/ retirement center/sanctuary(whatever you want to call it) is perfect, and that a whole lot of these places are not always what they seem... with that in mind, we decided to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary which had no riding but mud baths instead...

After being picked up at our hotel at 8:15 in the morning, we arrived at the sanctuary at around 10:30. Our driver, which was provided by the sanctuary, made us sit with him inside his pick up truck and let the kids watch Boss Baby on his cell phone for most of the trip. He had three kids of is own and just seemed to love our children, especially Keilan... which was a bonus for us since a two hour trip all squished in the back of a pick up truck isn’t all roses with four kiddos!

We stopped half way there for a 15 minute break... our driver told the people in the back(cause we had stopped at another hotel to pick another 4 people) that he had to stop for us, all the while he was the one who quickly walked to his buddies and ordered coffee at the little stand on the side of the road! We took advantage of these 15 minutes to find a toilet and then walk through the alleys of a local market!

The sanctuary was located in the mountain and the drive there was quite something...especially at the end, as we were nearing our destination and had to do a bit of “off road”... we then understood why the drive and driver were included in our tour!

Once there, we were given traditional Karen clothing which we got to wear right away and which had a little pocket to put pieces of sugar cane in so we could feed the elephants!

After being introduced to the staff and being given some info about the elephants and the sanctuary we got to feed these big beasts!

I think the kids weren’t expecting them to be so big or so strong! We had to say: BONBON and then the elephants would point their trunk at us so we could then give them the sugar canes... but their trunks... they’re so strong and they used them to peek into our pockets to see if we had anything left to give them...The kids wanted Jeremie and I to stay close by... I think they were a bit overwhelmed...

This particular sanctuary has three families of elephants and after feeding the first family we walked to the other one which included a two-week old baby! He was so cute!

Another one had such a nice hairdo...made me think of one of the elephants in “The Jungle Book” movie from when I was young!

We met the last family who was playing in the dirt and eating palm trees the staff was throwing their way!

We then walked back to our camp for lunch! There was rice, stir-fried vegetables, chicken drumsticks, curry and watermelon!

After lunch, we just relaxed for a while admiring the beauty of the jungle that surrounded us! While I would have gladly taken a nap, the kids preferred playing around with sticks and hiding from a little black cat that seemed to have adopted us while waiting for “naptime” to be over with!

When that time came around, we split into two groups; men and women, and helped prepare medicine balls for the elephants

Apparently, elephants have poor digestive systems(so I’m not the only one ;p) and they have to intake these medicine balls daily in order to be healthy. We, meaning the women, mixed together cooked rice, bananas, tamarind and some kind of probiotic...while the men slaved away grinding rice and some kind of bark with prehistoric tools! When the men labor was done, we mixed all the ingredients together forming the mixture into balls which we later fed to the elephants.

Then it was time for mud baths and swimming...

We changed into dry clothes and were offered tea with cookies which the kids devoured and then asked for more(good thing I had packed a few granola bars...) By then, 3 o’clock had rolled by and it was time to say our farewells and head back home.

We hadn’t even reached the main road that Norah was already asleep on my lap and Keilan followed suit not long after! The ride back home was quiet for a while and then, after the little ones woke, our driver put on a youtube mix of what I’m guessing was “American music”??? And the kids got to sing along Coldplay, CCR and Four None Blondes...again!

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