May 19, 2017
After very little sleep, we started day 1 with a beautiful breakfast (shown below) and headed to the school grounds for the welcome ceremony and a tour of the school. The school was so different then any in America. It had a common area with a roof but no side walls. Starting on the second floor, their were 3 stories of classrooms and we got the opportunity to see the dance room and the music room. The dance room was filled with beautiful gold head pieces and dresses that the Thai dancers wear when they are performing. (Shown below) We got to watch a Thai dancer perform the traditional Thai dance and also got to experience the actual dance culture here in Thailand. After that, we went into the music room and it was filled with all of these Thai instruments and “musical toys” (shown below). The Thai music instruments are so much more simple then in america but they are so beautiful and have amazing detail.
After the tour of the school grounds we headed to the Elephant Sanctuary. The Elephant sanctuary was called the Hutsadin Elephant foundation and it is home to 6 beautiful Elephants and a new baby girl they just recently adopted into the family.
A little about the foundation:
The Hutsadin Elephant foundation was started by three local businessmen to rescue elephants abandoned by their owners due to ill health, old age or simply because they are unable to work any longer. The foundation is a non-profit organization and any funds received directly benefit the elephants.
All paid staff are locally employed Thais, therefore providing employment for approximately 15 people. Of these one is employed for each working elephant who is called a mahout, he is responsible for it’s welfare, care and wellbeing. The mahouts also guide their elephant when trekking with tourists. The rest of the staff are responsible for the day to day running of the foundation.
The workers at the foundation are a small band of unpaid volunteers who help to look after the elephants and help to administer medication under the supervision of a professional Veterinarian and ensure their general health is maintained to a high standard.
The aim of the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation is to care for our elephants and give them every opportunity to live a life that is full and pain free. In order to achieve this we depend on donations from companies and the general public.We also provide the opportunity to ride, wash, walk and feed the elephants for a small donation.We are located in the forest just outside Hua Hin which provides the perfect habitat for the elephants and as we continue to develop we can provide the perfect living environment.
This was such an amazing experience. Elephants are very large animals but they are so gentle and have such unique personalities. We first started by taking pictures with the baby and then we moved on to learning about all 7 of the elephants. We learned their life stories and also about how they were rescued and brought to the foundation. One elephant was beaten and forced to perform dances on the streets of Thailand, another was starved to death by their owner after breaking a leg and not being able to raise money, another was given only 3 weeks to live and 9 years later is now thriving. These animals have been through hell and back and they have made such miraculous recoveries due to the compassion and caring of the people at the Hutsadin Foundation.
After we fed the Elephants we got to take 2 of them out for a walk around the fields. We learned that one of the male elephants had been attacked a few months ago and his tusks were cut off to be sold to China. We learned that one tusk can go for 2 million B which is around $40,000. It is sad to see such cruelty in this world to animals for an amount of money. These animals just want to be loved and roam around and adventure but instead they are being hunted and killed just for their tusks.
We learned a lot from this visit, not just about the elephants, but about being a good human being in general, and helping those in need. Many of the Elephants would not survive without the help of these volunteers and it is amazing that people dedicate their lives to saving them.
Lastly, the baby elephant!! She was a 9 year old female with such a personality. She loves oranges but you have to take the peel off first…. Princess!! This baby is extremely small for her age due to the malnutrition she suffered from as a baby. She was beaten and taught to dance and sing to raise money for her owner so they have had to teach her that singing and dancing is not a punishment. Because of this, whenever she sings or dances she gets rewarded and a treat! Now she loves to dance around without being beaten for it.
After a long shower and dinner, we ended our first day by going to the Night Market and we got to experience the chaotic and crowded streets of the vendors. The night market was everything I imagined it would be. Extremely packed and people running every which way yelling things I did not understand. It was also very hot!! I only purchased a portable fan (life changer) and mango sticky rice, but I was able to see what was available to us so that I could figure out what I wanted to come back and buy.
Lastly, I’d like to note something that we saw quite frequently: the Thai people’s love for their late king. There are pictures of him everywhere and it was incredible to see how much of a beloved king he was to have earned that respect, devotion, and love. We were very inspired by it all. Also, the respect the Thai children had for their teachers. The students have to pay to go to this school so they know how much their families are sacrificing for them so that they can live a better life then their parents do. They all are excited to go to school and learn english and prepare for their futures.
Between the school tour, the Elephant Sanctuary, and the the night market, my first day in Thailand was incredible. Yes, it is extremely hot and I am dripping sweat 24/7 but the sights and the experiences I will get in Thailand will be so worth it. I cannot wait to see what the next 13 days hold for us!