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Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary Park in Chiang Mai

The Thaiger

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By Sebastian Jacobitz

At the end of last year, I had the opportunity to travel for more than three months through Southeast Asia. I have already stated my travel plans before, and now the time has come where I want to recap on visiting the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. It was hands down one of the best experiences in my life and I want to share this awesome day I had with you. All of the following images have been taken with my FujiX100F.

The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai

I would like to describe my actual day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

There are a lot of different elephant sanctuaries that you can go to and offer a great service. I visited the Elephant Jungle Paradise Park, which has been recommended by my Airbnb host. This sanctuary has a 4.9 Star rating out of over 500 reviews on Facebook, which should tell you that they really offer a great experience.

I was living a little outside of Chiang Mai and the day began very early when a Tuk-Tuk driver drove me to the city of Chiang Mai. There I was already greeted by the driver of the sanctuary which would lead us to the paradise park.

All the sanctuaries are located in the mountains and driving there takes about two hours from Chiang Mai. On the way there, we also had the opportunity to visit a local market, which was a nice change since a lot of places in Chiang Mai are already very adapted to the tourism. The drive to the elephant sanctuary was an experience itself. A lot of the roads were under maintenance or construction work and driving there was already very exciting.

As we arrived, we changed our clothes and were provided traditional tops that should calm the elephants. That morning, I learned that elephants have terrible eye-sight and the purpose of the clothing should be to make them more familiar with new visitors.

After the introduction and the Do’s & Dont’s, we were led to the first feeding ground. There the elephants already patiently waited behind the small log railing. Every elephant has its own caretaker and the caretaker also provide the extra food to the elephants. While the elephants are not forced to wait behind the railings, it is their usual daily routine which is rewarded with food.

Not long after, the elephants left the railings and roamed freely among us visitors. There we could feed them very closely and take pictures. Keep in mind though that these are still wild and powerful animals. Although they are very gentle, they can still hurt by accident.

This is especially for the newborn which was also in the middle of the action. Only a few months old, its idea of playing with us was a little too rough and it wanted to prove that it is the stronger of us too with playful headbutts.

The elephant group also split at some point and single elephants were left into the jungle, while others were still eager to be fed or played with a tire.

Following the first feeding session, our group was lead to the waterfall and base camp of the elephant sanctuary. There we had a fantastic lunch consisting of local meals and fruits.

After finishing our own lunch, we prepared some snacks for the elephants that we could feed them later. What was great was that everyone was involved in preparing the food and our guide also explained what the elephants eat. In general, the tour was not only really entertaining but also educational at times without being boring.

To help the elephants out, we got in the mud and essentially bathed there too. We rubbed the mud on the elephants and feeling the thick skin was awesome and much different than I had anticipated. The elephants were thankful and “showered” us in mud too. Yes, they were basically inhaling the muddy water and spraying it at us with their trunks. Seeing the elephants having fun and being close to them is so much better than seeing them lying down lazily in a zoo.

Now we were all dirty from the mud, but luckily there is a natural shower in the form of the waterfall. So we got back to our camp and cleaned ourselves and soon after, the elephants were joining us too. In the small river, we splashed buckets full of water at them until they were cleaned as well.

This pretty much concluded the whole day which lasted from the morning till the evening. It was everything I looked forward too and much more. I am no expert, but to me, the elephants were genuinely happy, didn’t show any aggressive behavior and were very well kept.

In the morning, I recall that there was about a handful of elephants and for the evening apparently only two were eager to go to the mud bath. At the very morning, there was also the birth of another elephant calve, which were kept safe and away from the visitor’s area.

All of the people working there were really interested in the well-being of the elephants. The caretakers were providing food but didn’t force the elephants to perform tricks or other unnatural behavior.

To conclude my trip, I can only recommend to visit an elephant jungle sanctuary Yourself. Have a look at Tripadvisor or Facebook before booking one and you will have gained some good insight into the work of the sanctuary. In general, look out for sanctuaries that explicitly state that the elephants are not for riding, as this will be a good indicator that the place does care for the elephants and not the tourists.

The trip was truly an experience for life and I can’t state enough how great of a trip it was. Please stay away from conventional tourism businesses where elephants are used for riding or show tricks and support these animal-friendly places.

To read Sebastian’s full article and some tips on ethical travelling, click HERE.

I am Sebastian Jacobitz, a 29 year old hobby Street Photographer from Berlin, capturing the everyday life in this city. Streetbounty has been founded with the idea to share my learning experience in Street Photography and to inspire others to follow this difficult genre of photography.

Find out more about Sebastian and his work HERE.

- The Thaiger

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai: New Zealander accused of masterminding murder of his Korean mother Chiang Mai

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Chiang Mai police have arrested a New Zealander for allegedly masterminding the murder of his Korean mother by setting it up as quarrel between his wife and his elderly mother.

50 year old Brian Lee was arrested and charged with masterminding the murder of 76 year old An Jung Ja at a house in the Mountain View village in Tambon San Phisua in Chiang Mai’s Muang district on Thursday. He was being detained at the Mae Ping police station.

Earlier, Lee claimed his mother had a quarrel with her daughter-in-law, Park Songhee, who then stabbed her to death out of anger. Lee said his mother became angry at the speed of Park’s response to being called, and so grabbed her daughter-in-law and slammed her head against the wall and injuring her, before Park then stabbed her.

But after checking forensic evidence and security-camera footage, police concluded that Lee had lied about the quarrel and took part in the killing of his mother. His wife was under police watch at Chiang Mai Hospital.

Police said Lee’s mother had several apartments and businesses in South Korea, and Lee had brought her to live with the couple in Chiang Mai six months ago.

STORY: The Nation

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Chiang Mai

Huge meth bust in Chiang Mai

The Thaiger & The Nation

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The big seizures of methamphetamine pills and ‘ice’ continue around the Kingdom. In the last two months nearly 50 million pills have been collected in various stings and raids.

Around 9 million methamphetamine pills and 300kg of crystal meth or “ice” was seized in Chiang Mai province shortly after the arrest of a fugitive last Monday, the police claimed.

Officers apprehended five other suspects in Ayutthaya on Thursday who were to collect the smuggled drugs, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Sirinya Sidthichai told a press conference today (Friday).

Sirinya says that this major bust started when the ONCB Region 5 and police arrested the 43 year old hill tribesman Panatkit Soponphumpanya. He said the man was wanted for a drugs crime in December 2010 with a Chon Buri arrest warrant. He was arrested in Chiang Mai’s Mae Taeng district on Monday along with assets worth 10 million baht, Sirinya said.

The investigation then purportedly found that Panatkit was in the middle of a drug deal in which a supplier in neighbouring Myanmar hid a large batch of Golden Triangle “wine1” meth pills and “ice” along the border in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao district for him to transport to Ayutthaya.

He said officers confiscated the drugs in Chiang Dao and arrested the five suspects in Ayutthaya.

ONCB and police would continue to probe the case to arrest the rest of the suspects, he said.

Sirinya said the authorities would also monitor the moving of sodium cyanide, which can be synthesised into the narcotic substrate called phenyl-2-propanone for the making of meth. The ONCB chief said Burmese factories had legally ordered sodium cyanide from a third country but there were suspicions that the product was being transported via Thailand instead.

STORY: The Nation

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai: Son finds father dead in car

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A man has been found dead in his own car in Chiang Mai’s Muang district.  The car was covered near his house when his adopted son found the car with his father inside this morning.

Police estimate that 48 year old Somphet Thaso died at least two days earlier. His adopted son, Sukit Somboonpattanakoon, said Somphet could not be accounted for two days and he was unable to find him until he walked past the car and smelled a strong stench. He lifted the car cover canvas and found the body so he called the police.

The car was not locked but its four windows were closed.
Police say there were no traces of injuries on the man and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning caused the man’s death. The fact the car was covered might suggest suicide, they added.

But his relatives claim his bag with a mobile, ID card and some cash was missing.

The investigation continues.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Nation

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