16.02.2013 - 16.02.2013
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This morning we had a bit of a shuffle around. Liam showed one of the new volunteers, Adam, how to safely clean to monkeys whilst Chelsea cleaned out the leopards. Chelsea got the short straw as she had to clean out Nala after we had given her the sack full of elephant poo as an enrichment activity yesterday.
After breakfast we were told to work on the gibbon move. Chelsea and two other volunteers had to collect leaves for the floor of the enclosures and Liam had to go to the hardware store in the local village to buy rope so we can attach everything we have made, up in the cage. The staff of the hardware store spoke no English, Liam does not know what ‘rope’ is in Thai so it took a while from acting it out for the staff to figure out what he meant. Liam knows how to ask ‘how much?’ in Thai thanks to Toy teaching him every day at the cubs, and he finally got to put it into practice.
We worked on the toys for the gibbons cages until lunch time, this involved making another trapeze and tying up all the fixtures with the rope. After lunch Liam helped with the cubs and Chelsea finished off the toys. In order that the monkeys don’t untie the knots in the rope, we burn the rope and melt it together, Chelsea was doing this but in the process broke three lighters so no one else was willing to borrow her theirs and she had to stop.
At 3pm Chelsea had a walk round to the elephant show that the park puts on for tourists. The show used to be quite hard on the elephants with them balancing on their front legs and dancing but now it is quite good. The elephants play golf, search for bananas in tourists pockets and do an elephant ‘massage’ on a tourist where they gently stand on a tourists stomach. After Chelsea walked two of the elephants around to the river to be tied up to shower and eat. They are such gentle giants and it is amazing spending time with them and their mahouts. It is clear the mahouts adore their elephants and they look after one or two throughout their whole lives, growing up with them. It is really special just to walk with them and listen to the mahouts directing them, they are extremely intelligent and can do some quite intricate things.
When we got back to our house there was the big male elephant outside our front door (the one Liam rode yesterday) as the mahout was picking berries from the tree on the front. He is unbelievably beautiful and huge. We both went up to him for a stroke and to talk to the mahout. His skin is grey with pink spots and he is so gentle with giant tusks. We still can’t believe that we can be sat in our house and an elephant can walk past the door or pick berries from the tree right at the front of our house, we are so lucky.
Tonight we had an evening off English class and we decided to visit a local village with two other volunteers, Adam and Danni. The village is amazing, extremely rural Thailand. All the people were surprised to see us, calling out ‘falang’ (foreigner) and coming out to the street to greet us, smile and wave. We drove through taking it all in, the kids saying hello, a man walking a cow on a lead and dodging dozens of street dogs before resting at a shop and sharing a couple of beers. It has been a great change of pace to the evening and we just sat talking about travel plans and where we have all been and experienced, our homes and families and the safari whilst sat at this tiny road side shop. It was the kind of thing we came traveling for.