Hug them, feed them and love them

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Spending a day with Elephants in South East Asia

Travelling around the world is a unique opportunity that everyone experiencing it should appreciate in its whole. For us, Martine and I, friends for about 3 years now, it was important to enjoy each moment spent on our world tour – yes, exactly, we travelled around the world… It was about time to let all our dreams come true!

We started our trip in Thailand. First time in Asia for both of us. One of the things that we really wanted to do was to spend time with elephants and ride them in the middle of the jungle. So we did. Up North, in Chiang Mai we found an elephant farm with great reviews. We didn’t want to be part of those people who only think about their own happiness. No, we clearly didn’t want to do that! We wanted the elephants to be happy and we wanted to be part of their journey and not the opposite. It’s not their job to be part of our magical day but we, tourists, are kind of disturbing their daily environment. It’s our job to respect that environment and so we did. It was important for us to ride them bare back because we’ve read that otherwise we would be torturing them – we didn’t want to do that!

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When we first arrived, we met Chen, our amazing guide. He was barefoot and had a funny Thai accent when he was speaking English, but we understood him. His favorite quote was “hug them, feed them, love them” – he probably said that a thousand times, and I’m not kidding! He really meant what he was saying!

It was about time to meet the elephants. Three adult elephants were standing there and in the corner we could see a baby elephant – so cute! Believe me, you really would “hug him, feed him and love him”. “Give them lots of Ba (for banana)” Chen told us, as it would be one of the most important actions of the day. And so we did.

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In the afternoon, it was time for them to have a little walk and do some exercise. We rode them through the jungle. The scenery was amazing. We were told that an elephant only sleeps like 3 hours a day, eats 21 hours a day and poos a lot. Interesting information when you are riding them and stopping every 10 minutes because they have to do number two – kind of a funny moment when you are sitting on them. After this, we went to a little lake which was situated in the farm. Bath time! We had the most awesome experience: we had to bath them, brush them and clean them. Of course, we got all wet as they did, but they were happy about it and so were we. We hugged them, kissed them and gave them lots of love while we were there. Afterwards, they were shining, and you basically could see them happy – even smiling would Chen say. Wasn’t that the purpose of our day? Trying to bring some joy into elephants’ lives without torturing them as most farmers or even tourists actually do? Yes it was, and I’m proud to be able to say that it was an incredible experience – one of the most human/animal encounters on this trip!

Photos: © Jessica Gaspar

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