11.04.2013 - 15.04.2013 39 °C
It is now Songkran in Thailand. It is a new years festival where to celebrate the Thai people have big water fights. It lasts from the 13th to the 17th.
For the last week or more Chelsea has been feeding the giraffes and zebras in the morning at 7.30am while everyone else does the morning monkey feed and clean. Lung Noi is the giraffe keeper and Sanapong is the zebra keeper. They are both very kind and smile throughout the whole feed. You can tell that they both take pride in their jobs and don’t mind sharing it with us. They enjoy watching us have a nice time like proud parents and they hand out the buckets of feed to tip into the feeding bowls. It is really sweet. On Thursday after the giraffe and the zebras were fed Sanapong asked if we wanted to go feed the deer on the safari. Obviously Chelsea said yes. He loaded his motorbike side car up with bags of feed and then drove Chelsea and the new volunteer into the safari. The deer were already waiting by their feeding troughs and he drove straight through them so they were surrounded by loads of deer. You have to wade through them to fill up their troughs but they are really timid and move out of the way. It is a lovely peaceful and fun morning feeding the giraffe, deer and zebra.
After Chelsea spent the morning cleaning the common room as we had several new volunteers arriving on Thursday and Liam did some computer work. Everyone had lunch down at the cub area and both Mocha and Latte were there today. As Mr Tip ,Mochas keeper was on holiday he could not go into town to be chained to the table. It was amazing to see them playing together again and it is the first time since we came back that we have seen them together. They really enjoy each others company.
After lunch we decided to see the crocodile show. Lots of people complain about the show because of its brutality but not many volunteers have ever been to check it out. The show is really bad. Basically crocodiles are shown in an arena with a slippery wet, tiled floor in the centre to make sure the crocodiles can’t walk properly to retaliate. The Thai keepers then repeatedly poke them with bamboo sticks until they snap at them as well as putting body parts in the crocs mouths. At the end tourists can pose with photos with the crocodiles. The staff recognised us and tried to persuade us to have a photo but we politely declined for both safety and moral reasons. After we caught the last ten minutes of the elephant show and Chelsea got a lift back to our house with a mahout on one of the elephants, a medium sized male with big tusks while Liam drove next to us on the bike. Being so close to an elephant is amazing. You sit directly on their back and as they walk you sway from side to side trying to stay on. Their skin is so thick and heavy and they have really course hairs that are spikey. They are beautiful and riding on them is beautiful and scary at the same time. For our evening meal we decided to have a fire by the river with the new volunteers and we had some food on the fire, chicken and vegetable kebabs.
Friday Chelsea took a new person to the giraffes and the bear was right up to the gate. It is amazing. It is absolutely massive and has a big fluffy head. You can go right up to it and touch it through the mesh. Its fur is course and its eyes are really small. It sniffed us through the bars and the bear keeper gave us a carrot so we could feed it. It is unbelievable how close up it was.
Liam built a temporary enclosure for the jungle cat. The boss has been given a wild jungle cat as a present and it was in a tiny bird cage. We saw it a few days ago and asked for responsibility of it so we can get it healthy and then release it into the wild. Liam and Adam built a small cage for it to go in until we build something in the jungle for it. At lunch time we took the new volunteers on the safari bus. It is still really fun, it never gets old. The lions were really close this time and as always the giraffes were amazing.
They put their heads in the bus and ate all the bananas before we had even realised. It is such a great experience we will never understand why they need to have animals chained up to attract people. The giraffes alone are enough as it is totally unique and fun.
In the afternoon Liam went finishing with Adam in the jungle. Chelsea was on cub duty all day. In the morning she walked Latte, the leopard cub down from her night enclosure to the front and spent all day with Latte and Tat. It was really nice and she even managed to get some paw prints from Latte to sell and raise money for their new enclosure. She sold two prints to a family. Latte was really cute and cuddly all day. Normally she is a bit of a feisty kitten and wants to play and bite but she was cuddling up on Chelsea’s knee and being stroked and played with. Chelsea was happy she got to spend some time with one of her babies.
On Friday night we decided to have a party. We went to the local shop and almost bought all their booze and had a good night talking and laughing. We had the fire lit and we stayed up way too late but it was really fun.
Saturday was really hard after Friday night. It had already being decided that Saturday was a day of relaxing which is a good job as we were both really hung over. Chelsea took someone new the giraffes and the bear was up close again. We went over to see it again, it is amazing no matter how many times we see it. We both had a nap after all the cleaning and feeding was done and met up for lunch at the cub area. Chelsea went in for a little play and cuddle with Latte and then all the volunteers went to the elephant show. We want to change the shows as it doesn’t promote a very good image. The manager has agreed and has said if we all could go and give our ideas of how to make it more interesting and ethical. We want to get rid of the dancing and posing, the hoola-hoops and bowing and call it ‘meet out elephants’. Rather than a show, people can ask questions and have photos and feed them and then it is not demeaning to the elephants. The man on the speaker narrating the show spotted us and introduced ‘Mr Liam from England’ to the entire crowd. He then asked Liam to volunteer for every different part of the show. He got dragged up to lay on the ground while elephants walked over him and it was truly terrifying but everyone found it hilarious.
In the afternoon we went down to the cub area and the boss asked us to watch his relatives dog. It was a massive golden lab puppy so we were obviously delighted to babysit it. We spent the afternoon playing with the puppy. It was a great way to get rid of your hangover. Tea was horrible, cabbage with lumps of fatty pork belly inside so we went to the shop in the evening and bought some supplies and finished off with an early night.
Chelsea took someone new to the giraffes, zebra and deer again and the bear was out again yesterday. Chelsea got to feed it what she thought was bear food but then she asked to see the packet and it was actually a chocolate crispy roll. No wonder the bear waits at the gate everyday looking cute. For the rest of the day Chelsea made a display board for our adopt an animal scheme. In the afternoon she left it with another volunteer to finish as Tat asked her if she could help with some tourists who had booked onto one of our programmes. We were meant to make enrichment activities for the monkeys but they didn’t show up. Instead she watched buddy being fed, our little owl chick. Sunday is the first day we have put him in his big cage so he can fly around. He jumped in but was a little scared and kept crawling under Ned’s legs. After a while he went on and explored and flew up to Chelsea’s shoulder and sat their looking at her for a while. When he is a little bigger we plan on releasing him into the wild. He has grown a lot so it shouldn’t be too long now. Liam spent his entire day building a run for the dogs. At night time they chase bikes and bark at people so we need to keep them close. We have built the dog pen several times but they keep escaping so Liam and Adam set to work making it into a little doggie prison. They worked on it all day and were totally knackered at the end of the day but it is nearly finished. Liam was upset yesterday as they have put a permanent chain on Tat, the tiger cub. She is not chained up to anything, it is like a collar. We don’t like it and it looks horrible but apparently it needs to be on for safety reasons as she is so big now, for something to grab if she tries to bite. She still looks like a baby to us so it is horrible to see her with it on.
Today Chelsea fed giraffes, zebras and deer again with a new volunteer again and Liam fed and cleaned monkeys with the rest of the team. After breakfast Liam and Adam finished the dog pen and then set to work on an enclosure in the jungle for the wild jungle cat. It is only a tiny kitten but they plan to keep it in a caged area of the jungle and then when it is a bit bigger release it into the jungle. They did a really good job and it is almost finished. It is just missing one side and a roof to be done tomorrow. At lunch we ate our lunch in the jungle near the river and Liam and Adam decided to go for a swim.
There is a beautiful tree hanging over the water that some of the volunteers want to build a tree house in and host camping trips at. Chelsea re-did her adoption display board as it got too dirty yesterday to use. It looks nice now though and she has made a bamboo frame. In the evening we all went down to the camping spot and had a little party. We decided to go early and have a swim. The boys had spent the day making a tyre swing so we played in the swing and then went for a swim. The water is so warm and nice.
Getting out of the water is a bit of a task though as you have to climb back up the tree. We spent the evening by the fire cooking and eating food. We had jacket potatoes, grilled chicken, ribs, corn, bbq fish and veg skewers. We invited Toy, Blues keeper and her children Mink and Arm who come to our school and Joe and his wife came, as well as Mr Tip, Mochas keeper. It was really nice and we had food and drinks next to the river. We left at around 9.30 and went into the village for a few beers. On the way we were stopped by a group in the middle of a water fight and we got drenched but it was good fun. After a few beers the lady wanted to close her shop so we came home.