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.


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