Megan's World Trip continues travel blog

Arrived on the overnight train and everyone was so excited about heading to the Elephant Center. Walked around Lampang looking for some breakfast. Sat at one place and after looking at the menu decided we didn't want noodles or soup for breakfast. So got on a taxi for the 33km trip to the Elephants. At the park we headed to the Information Center where we met the organiser and filled in some forms and were given our mahout suit. Blue fisherman pants and a blue shirt. A mahout is an elephant trainer.

We had the best time on the elephants. Check out the photos. We have over 150 photos and heaps on the video camera. I will write more later. Basically we spent the 3 days with our own elephant, learning how to get on and off it, learning the commands in thai, giving them lots of baths and getting really wet, taking them back to the jungle for the night, getting up at 6.30am to get them from the jungle, taking them in the show. We had some fantastic mahouts who made the experience an absolute awesome memory. I think each one of us did not want to leave and were ready to sign up for the 10 day training and then the 30 day training camps. - Megan

I think everyone is still on a high from the elephant camp. We are still talking about the experience a week later. It was the most amazing time and would recommend anyone who comes to Thailand to visit and book in for the mahout training program.

On the first day, after being given the info and uniform, we went to watch the elephants being bathed. Elephants came from everywhere to have a bath, lots of water being splashed around by trunks. Looked like heaps of fun. Afterwards they walked up to the showground where they showed us things like moving logs, how to get on/off, pick up items, play musical instruments, paint pictures. None of us could sit still while watching this - very excited. After lunch we went to the Elephant Dung Paper Factory. Elephant poo is huge so they had to figure out a way to make use of it. Each poo is like a soccer ball! So they make paper. It looks like recycled paper. We each had a turn making it. Felt weird getting your hands 'dirty'. They have made things like photo albums, frames, jewerelly boxes, bookmarks, books and now sell them. After that we finally got to meet our own elephant. It was great having our own elephant for 3 days. My mahout was great - a bit of a trickster. But we could give as good as we got. After an hour of training, where we learnt how to get on/off, get the elephant to sit down, lie down, pick up items and getting the confidence to sit way up high on these majestic animals. We started to head back to the jungle about 3pm and went via 2 water ponds. Here the fun really started. Each mahout had great pleasure in getting the elephant to lie down in the water so we got drenched. The screams and laughter could probably be heard in Australia! In the jungle each elephant had a chain around one leg and the other end was tied to a tree so they couldn't roam too much at night. After a rest we helped the mahout family prepare dinner. We chopped veges, pounded garlic and chatted about the day. We had a great dinner, fresh fish, chicken, lots of vege stir fry. Exhausted after such a busy day we were all asleep by 8pm.

The next day we headed back into the jungle at 6.30am. When we got to our elephant we watched as they pulled their chain in, got dusted off and then we fed them some bananas. We then got on and rode back to the village, via some water again. Nicola got very wet! After breakfast we joined in the bathing show. During this water show we all discovered our we could use the elephant trunk like a water pistol. Water was everywhere. Ask Nicola how good her elephant's trunk was. It had perfect aim and would fire 20 litres of water straight at you. You would call out 'bon bon' to the elephant, it would then fill it's trunk up and hold it up for you to aim. After squeezing the end it would fire the water. Great fun!!! If in Tassie ask to see the video we got! In the afternoon we went to visit the hospital. The hospital provides free care to the elephants of Thailand. There was a variety of injuries - sun burn, land mines, ulcers, bad health, gun shot wound. One elephant who stood on a landmine had been there for 7 years. We also went for a ride on the elephant taxi. This is where they have a seat on the back and 2 people can sit there. It took about 1/2 hour and was OK. Preferred sitting on my own elephant's neck much better. Had another training session and then took the elephants back to the jungle. They stay in a different spot each night. Each elephant eats 200-300kg of food a day and drinks 100 litres so they have to move them around.

The last day we got the elephants. This time there was a tour group staying at the centre and they also came on the walk but had to walk back whilst we rode our elephant. Lots of jealous looks! In the bath again and then we got to go in the show. My elephant was at the front and beated the drum. Raelene's held the drum and the rest all walked behind in a line. In the show we got to show everyone what we had learned in the training sessions. Kinda nervous doing it in front of so many people. Also our muscles were killing and getting up on the elephant was getting harder. They are so big and tall! After the show we had to say good bye to the elephants - bit sad. We each got a certificate and gave our mahout a tip. It really was the most amazing 3 days and I'm sure none of us will forget about it. We then had to figure out how to get to Chiang Mai. We headed out to the highway and flagged down a bus. The journey only took 1 1/2 hours. We found a nice place to stay and were glad to see a swimming pool. It is getting quite hot during the days. That night we spent at the Night Bazaar markets. A shoppers paradise. Lots of bags, purses (all rip off labels), DVD's, CD's, tourist stuff, everything you could imagine wanting. After a couple of hours of walking (we only made it halfway up the street) we headed off to watch some Muay Thai Boxing. - Megan

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