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Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary Park in Chiang Mai

The Thaiger

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Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary Park in Chiang Mai | The Thaiger

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.

Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary Park in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

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.

Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary Park in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

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.

Visiting the Elephant Sanctuary Park in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

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.



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Chiang Mai

Disaster zone declared in Lampang after 31 mild tremors

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Disaster zone declared in Lampang after 31 mild tremors | The Thaiger

It’s been a week of mild shocks and tremors in Lampang province in northern Thailand. Although there has been no lives lost, there has been a lot of minor damage to structures, mainly in the north of the province.

The Wang Nua district, the northern-most district in Lampang province, north-east of Chiang Mai, has been now declared a disaster zone after it was hit with 31 mild earthquakes and aftershocks.

Pichet Ekparn, chief of the disaster alleviation division of Lampang Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office, says the district was declared disaster zone so that government agencies could speed up efforts to help affected people.

UP to a hundred houses and some public buildings have been damaged as a result of the mild earthquakes with building cracks, falling tiles and cracked rendering being the worst of the damage.

The Seismological Bureau of the Meteorological Department says that a total of 31 quakes and aftershocks occurred in Wang Nua from Wednesday up to yesterday.

Lampang provincial governor Songpol Sawattham held an urgent meeting of agencies concerned and instructed them to survey the damage to provide aid immediately.

Wang Nua assistant district chief Bamrung Khamwai said an initial survey found 72 houses, four government offices and seven temples in seven tambon were damaged.

He said government officials have yet to completely evaluate the damage.

Disaster zone declared in Lampang after 31 mild tremors | News by The Thaiger Disaster zone declared in Lampang after 31 mild tremors | News by The Thaiger Disaster zone declared in Lampang after 31 mild tremors | News by The Thaiger Disaster zone declared in Lampang after 31 mild tremors | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Chiang Mai

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border

The Thaiger

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Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% – Speed and Ice pouring over the border | The Thaiger

The number of seizures of high-purity crystal methamphetamine are surging into northern Thailand. The demand rises and the methods of detection and enforcement also improve. It’s a vicious circle.

Authorities say the number of drug seizures have risen 1000% in just the past 2 years, a stark indication of the growth in industrial-scale production in neighboring Myanmar.

Some 18.4 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, was seized in Thailand last year, according to preliminary statistics from the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board. They know it’s a tiny proportion of the amounts produced and shipped out undetected.

That figure is up from 5.2 tonnes in 2017 and 1.6 tonnes in 2016. It’s more than three times the amount captured across all of Southeast Asia five years ago – a staggering rise in production and distribution.

Thailand remains a major trafficking route for the artificial drug manufactured in Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states – the north-eastern states of Myanmar that border China, Laos and Thailand.

Police say organised crime groups work with local pro-government militias and armed rebels to set-up “super labs” and allow transport through the regions to borders beyond.

The same mega-labs are also pumping out ‘cocktail’ tablets of methamphetamine, mixed with caffeine and other ‘fillers’. The drug is nicknamed ‘yaba’ in Thailand. Specialist chemists and ‘cooks’ are brought in from Taiwan and China to run the meth labs in Myanmar, while the ingredients and lab equipment mostly come from China.

The methamphetamine tablets are a low-grade recreational drug, inexpensive and popular with blue-collar workers and low-end recreational drug users across South East Asia. The price for a ‘yaba’ pill has plummeted from around 200 baht to 80 baht in the past five years.

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% - Speed and Ice pouring over the border | News by The Thaiger

But the Golden Triangle, bordering north-eastern Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has a long history of illicit drug trafficking.

It came to the West’s notice as a cultivation hub for opium and heroin refining but those, now, easily detected crops are being replaced with methamphetamine production. The factories are easily hidden underneath the jungle canopy, and with the assistance of ‘co-operative’ local authorities, armed gangs and state-sponsored militias, the precursor drugs and final product move in and out with little trouble.

Once the drugs have made their way through Thailand the drug syndicates use “motherships” that intercept the drugs off the Andaman coast and distribute them to other parts of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Whilst the growth in production and purity of the drugs is alarming authorities, they are also intercepting and detecting a lot more of the road shipments making their way across the Thai borders. But they readily admit they are only netting a tiny part of the larger iceberg.

Despite the frequent showcasing of large drug hauls by Thai police, the vast majority of the drugs coming out of the back-doors of Myanmar’s meth labs are getting through undetected.

Golden Triangle drug labs increase shipments 1000% - Speed and Ice pouring over the border | News by The Thaiger

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Chiang Mai

American backpacker refuses to pay for girl he brought back to hostel, punches staff

The Thaiger

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American backpacker refuses to pay for girl he brought back to hostel, punches staff | The Thaiger

An American backpacker tourist, visiting Chiang Mai, had to be restrained after getting into a squabble with hostel staff after being asked to leave the premises.

The video of the altercation was shared on Reddit by ‘EatPrayFart’.

Following a night out, the backpacker brought a girl back to the mixed dorm room that he shared with nine other people. The report alleges the two had sex and were making a lot of noise.

The following morning the man was asked to leave the premises for breaking hostel rules. The staff also demanded he pay 200 baht for allowing the girl to stay in the dorm with him.

The man refused to pay and a fight followed, caught on camera, in the reception of the hostel.

In the footage the American man can be seen punching a member of the hostel staff before being restrained by another man. Some comments in the original post say that the man was also asked to leave by some of the other people staying in the dorm.

The report suggests the man was later taken into custody by Chiang Mai police.

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