This may have been the best Christmas week I have ever had. Not necessarily Christmas Day because no presents or family and friends, and no staying up till 3am playing boardgames – but still. Overall best Christmas ever!! We spent the 20th through 27th at the “Elephant Nature Park” in Chang Mai Thailand. They had roughly 500 dogs (most important part) 300 cats and exactly 66 elephants!!!!! However we did not spend Christmas petting dogs, cats, and elephants mostly it was stacking hay bails, unloading pumpkin trucks, shoveling elephant crap (a lot of elephant crap!!), and hardest of all cutting grass. This was not normal grass but 10 foot grass that we then had to haul up a mountain because some genius decided to park the truck at the top of the hill and put the super tall grass at the bottom. Thankfully we were not alone, there were 3 locals that helped us. The 3 of them did about 5 times as much as the 10 tourists did.
The food there was amazing!! There’s a buffet of entirely vegetarian food every meal. And it’s first come first serve, so if you get there 5 minutes late all the food’s gone. Which stinks because there are like 50 dishes so you want to try everything, but after the first round it’s all gone. So if you find something you really like you can’t get more, and you only got a little bit at first because you wanted to try everything so, yeah, that stinks. -SLaff
Editor’s note- This really was an amazing week. We got to interact with and learn so much about the large residents of Elephant Nature Park. One thing that we learned was the unspeakable treatment that all of the rescued elephants had endured. Please learn more at this link, and do not support activities that require “tamed” elephants (circuses, logging, riding, street begging, etc.), as you can assume all of them have been subjected to the practice of phajaan. That said, we also will forever remember this week because of the 40+ amazing people that made up our volunteer group. Inspiring people and their stories were everywhere. It’s incredible what being surrounded by such great people for a full week can do for you. – ALaff