Archive for December, 2010

week twenty-four

December 26, 2010

Time has gone quickly, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary and Elephant Nature Park visits have come and gone. My heart is flooded with memories and love. A special moment I will remember happened on our morning walk one day at BLES. Pang Suai had gone into the stream to cool herself down, but stopped when she suddenly realized she couldn’t see her best friend Pang Dow, who had wondered in the other direction, grazing away. She looked around, on alert and clearly worried. The mahout brought Pang Dow to the stream, relief came over Pang Suai and a beautiful reunion followed. It was as if they hadn’t seen each other for days or months.

good things (week twenty-four).

. meeting the BLES elephants, Katherine and Marleen in person
. showers with Pang Dow
. the beauty of Sukhothai airport, a magical place
. beautiful warm sunny days
. trunk kisses from Lom and Tong Jui
. a magnitude of beautiful elephant moments and memories
. meeting Lek & Antoinette at Elephant Nature Park
. christmas eve at BLES: carolling to the mahouts and mass & blessings at the Ganesh shrine

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The Dawn of Happiness

December 21, 2010


(From my travel journal – day 3 at BLES)

After thirty-six hours of traveling, three flights, and just about four hours of sleep, I arrived in Sukhothai. This magical little airport amidst rice fields and farmers is where the journey would really begin. Sukhothai means dawn of happiness is Thai, and that is exactly where I was flying to. The sadness and the ugliness of the world had seemed to be winning over the good – and I hadn’t given myself the time or space to get back on my feet and see the brighter side of life.

But after the dark comes the light and the dawn of happiness, for me in the shape of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. This has been a dream since discovering and learning about this place, these elephants and the incredible woman that founded it. As I said to Katherine on my first day, it felt I was being reunited with the elephants rather than meeting them for the first time.

And what elephants they are. Pang Dow moves me deeply every time I see her. I’ve scrubbed her down three times so far, and sometimes after having enough to drink, she’ll lean into you just to be. Katherine describes her in one word as determined and that is incredibly apt. Read her story here. I am in awe of her and she will be an inspiration in my life.

Wassana’s songs are the perfect start to any day, Lom is such a darling and Mee Chok the cutest little thing. Pang Suai is a rock, and all the other ones, all so special. They are the happiest elephants I ever did meet, despite everything they went through.

The morning starts with a scrub for the elephants before breakfast – I am first out of bed and waiting for the elephants –  and then we set out on a walk with the elephants and simply observe. Occasionally one or two will drop by to say hello, but often it’s like watching elephants in the wild. We return for lunch and another quick hose down and swim for the elephants in the heat of the day. The hut where we eat lunch overlooks the pond and it’s pure bliss to watch them play in the water while we enjoy the delicious food.
We set out on another walk and when we get back late afternoon, the elephants head to their overnight spot in the forest and I go for a cold shower to cool me down, the days are hot. Dogs and cats are around to cuddle with, and dinner is a wonderful time to reflect on the day. Then it’s off to bed for me around 8.30, to get up early for another scrub with Pang Dow.

It’s been an amazing start to the trip,  and I am already feeling so much better. I am surrounded by elephants, wonderful people and fresh air.

week twenty-three

December 18, 2010


It was the storm before the calm. Aside from finishing up everything at work before putting on the out-of-office reply and all the final details that I needed to organize for my trip, the time had come to say goodbye to Frankie. Returning that evening from work to an empty apartment was one of the loneliest moments of my life. Having never lived in that apartment or even in Ottawa without her, the adjustment was sad and difficult. I kept forgetting she was no longer there, so accustomed to her (mostly) silent company.

Luckily 48 hours later it was time for me to leave Ottawa behind me and return to the elephants.

The week of sadness and chaos did not allow for a photo. Technically this photo was taken in the early hours of Sunday night Canada time, and would possibly count. I had just arrived at BLES and started soaking in the calm and happiness.

good things (week twenty three)

. singing my heart out at karaoke
. wonderful reflections from people at work
. many cuddles with Frankie
. phone calls with my parents
. at last, a proper snow fall
. smooth sailing on the 36 hour journey
. reading Antoinette’s book “The Great Elephant Escape”
. Arriving at BLES

week twenty-two

December 12, 2010

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a really special, warm and happy Christmas and everything good in the world for the New Year. The next few weeks I will try and write from the road, when a computer crosses my path. But I will give a full report on all my adventures when I return from my trip to the elephants, and more pictures than you can handle.

good things (week twenty-two).

. an evening of singing and music at Emily’s dinner party
. catching up with Allie over lunch
. another week of cuddles with Frankie
. a phone call from my parents
. really great dance workshop
. brunching with Melanie at the Wild Oat