Thursday 22 October 2015

Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the highlights in Thailand was visiting the Elephant Nature Park which is about an hour outside of Chiang Mai. We chose the two day one night trip which cost us 5,800 baht each (just over £100). There are lots of ways to see elephants in Thailand but as you can imagine a lot of these are really unethical and the cheaper they are, it's likely the worse the animals are treated. We didn't want to put money into funding these kinds of places which is why we chose the park. 

All of the elephants here have been rescued, some were street elephants, others were used in illegal logging and some of them were involved in forced breeding. The injuries some of these elephants sustained are heartbreaking to see but watching them roam, be fed and spoilt here is so great to see.

All of the elephants are assigned a mahout when they arrive and these people live and breathe alongside their elephant. The elephants learn how to trust and have very obvious bonds with their mahout's. Elephants are extremely intelligent and really are gentle giants. Of course, there were some moments where we found ourselves hastily getting out of the way because they are, after all, (HUGE) wild animals but there was never a point where we felt unsafe.

Our group of nine were led by a guide who had been in the bus picking us all up from our individual hotels. He knew loads about the park and was great about answering questions. The first activity was feeding the elephants which we did from the covered veranda where all our meals were served. It's all open air and the animals roam about just feet away. Once the buckets of watermelon and bananas came out lots of sneaky trunks appeared, tapping about the air for the fruit.

For most of the day we simply trailed around the park, following the footsteps of giants. You get to interact with them, stroking and admiring them, feeding them and washing them in the river. For an elephant lover it was seriously dreamy, they're incredible.

At lunch and dinner time there's a huge vegetarian buffet to tuck into. Now this isn't usually my cup of tea but it actually wasn't bad and there was heaps of different things to try. We were told 'It's all vegetarian because here we look after animals, we don't eat them.' Fair enough.

In the evening, our group sat chatting about travelling, great box sets and horrendous travel toilet tales. We laughed a lot and then went to our stilted houses for lights out. The elephants slept just metres away in their barns and the sounds of the occasional trumpet would pass through every so often.

It was an early start for breakfast which was fine as we wanted to get the most out of our final day. Day two was much of the same but we ventured further around the park, crossing through the river and tracking the various herds. We had a different guide and he told us to fill up our water bottles for something cool. After crossing the river to visit three females, he showed us how to offer our water to them by putting our bottles near their trunk. As they turned them upright we poured the water into their expectant trunks and seconds later it reappeared shooting out in a big spray.

If you're looking to ride elephants, this isn't the place to come. As we were told, elephants backs are actually quite weak and shouldn't carry heavy loads. The Elephant Nature Park is solely about observing these beautiful beasts, interacting with them and enjoying them in as much of a natural environment as it can be.

We loved our trip and it was well worth the money. All our food and water was included, as was the transfer to and from our hostel. If you're planning a trip to Chiang Mai and want to see elephants I would highly recommend it. Watching the babies playing, feeding and chucking buckets of water over these gorgeous animals is something I will never forget.

All the information about the park can be found here > Elephant Nature Park including information about volunteering, prices and FAQs.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Thailand Photo Diary

It's been a while since I last blogged and that is because I have been off FINDING MYSELF on the other side of the world. Back in February me and my boyfriend of six years broke up and as with any huge change in life, it made me reassess and come to the realisation that this wasn't the end of the world but an opportunity to do something different. My little sister was jumping on a plane the following day to SE Asia and while I couldn't drop everything and go with her, I decided to save for a few months and then follow her footsteps.

So after saving up for three months, off I went to find Amy in Chiang Mai. When I arrived sleepy and in a clich├ęd pair of hareems, there she was holding up my name at the airport and so started our adventure together.

Here are a selection of my favourite snaps from two weeks in Thailand.

Before I'd left the UK I knew I wanted to meet some elephants and I wanted to do it in the most ethical way possible. We visited the Elephant Nature Park, an hour outside of Chiang Mai, for a two day trip. We spent the whole time feeding elephants, stroking them, washing them in the river and generally wandering around with them. It. Was. INCREDIBLE. I will be posting a more detailed blog about this trip but if you want to know whether it was worth it, the answer is - YES, do it!

Wat Chedi Luang. This temple started life in the 14th century. You could so easily stumble upon it if you didn't know it was there, as it's set right in the middle of Chiang Mai's maze of roads, on a really unremarkable street. Being in South East Asia, we saw a lot of temples but this was one of the more impressive ones.

Thai street food.

We spent around four days in Pai, which is north west of Chiang Mai, at Purple Monkey backpackers. Pai is a tiny little hippie town and I loved it. There was so much great food, lots of little shops and loads of places to visit outside of town. We went to a reggae festival, climbed a million steps to the white Buddah, jumped in a waterfall, watched the sunset on a canyon, had a road trip with a local driver who bought us lychees to munch in the back of his truck. Pai was the best.


Meeting the locals in Koh Samet.

Sunrise on Koh Samet.

Since Amy had already done Thailand for a month at the start of her trip, we mostly only did Northern Thailand but we felt it necessary to squeeze in some beach time so spent two days on Koh Samet.

We came from Pai to Koh Samet which was quite the mission: 2 buses, 1 sleeper train, 2 tuk tuks, 1 taxi and 1 boat which, in total, took 24 hours but it was so worth it.

Underwater snaps before my tan and before this camera broke.

Two weeks in Thailand definitely wasn't enough and hopefully I'll be able to go back and do the islands one day. After Thailand we flew to Myanmar...

Sunday 4 January 2015

Pink Coat

I know I'm about 4 years late but I wanted a pink coat for ages, so when I found this one in Primark for £25 it was a no-brainer, as they say. I've been finding, in my old age, that I opt much more for neutral colours, so it's nice to get a bit of colour in my life in something other than lipstick.

Trainers are another thing that I basically live in. Seriously, if I could wear them to bed like my little brother used to do with his cowboy hat, I would (just joking, shoes in bed would be gross.) Santa brought me a very exciting new pair of Nike's for Christmas and I treated myself to a simple black and white Karrimor pair last week. In total I think I have six pairs of proper trainers and that's not including these Reebok's or Converse or NUTTIN! I have a very real problem but seriously comfortable feet, so, swings and roundabouts.

Pink Coat - Primark
Striped Cropped Tee - Primark
White Shirt - ASOS
Ripped Jeans - Primark DIY
Reebok Trainers - Sarenza
Boxy Bag - H&M
Gold Necklace - H&M
Lipstick - Papaya Punch by Sleek

Sunday 2 November 2014

Grey Boyfriend Coat

It's true, I'm in love with a coat. This was the coat I spent all last winter looking for. I also found it in pink so obviously bought that too, you can't not really when they're £25 each(!) The only problem is, we've been having some seriously mild weather, so I haven't really had to commit to coats properly yet, I'm quite looking forward to it.

This skirt is one of my faves but it really is hard to walk in, I have to literally Bridget Jones it when I go up stairs or even the slight step up on a pavement curb. For some reason I find myself always teaming this skirt with navy tops but actually I really like the navy and grey together, maybe I'll finally stop wearing monochrome and switch things up to blue and grey... push the boat out!

Necklaces being my favourite accessories, I was really happy to spot this rather unusual design when I was in Athens. It's handmade and completely unique and for some reason, makes me think of space...

Grey Boyfriend Coat - Primark
Breton Top - H&M
Navy Pencil Skirt - River Island
Studded Boots - New Look
Mulberry Alexa Bag
Necklace - Street Market in Greece
Lipstick - Kate Moss for Rimmel no. 20