Up at 7.00am to leave for the elephant nature park. An AC van picked us up and showed us a sad, short film about how elephants are abused over the country in riding treks, circuses and painting shows etc. We got to the park after about an hour. It was very hilly and green all over.
The first thing they did was make us drop our bags off outside the dog clinic. I wasn’t happy about this as it had my laptop and Kindle in and stuff and it could have easily started raining and wrecked everything. We were then driven down some dusty paths with trees on either side and led to a large wooden platform area which is the centre of the park. The guy from the van took us around the park which is a flat bit in between all the hills. It was quite big and there were families of elephants dotted about the place. Each one had a Mahout (carer) to make sure they stayed out of trouble. The guy made us touch the elephants’ sides and get pictures with them. He did this for lots of them as he told us about them. It got a bit samey after the first couple but it wasn’t bad to know about them and have some shots in my pretentious straw hat/bandana combo. There were some weird little leaves on the ground that shrivelled when you touched them.
Then it was lunch time at the platform. All the food was vegetarian and there was a lot of choice but as the park was crowded there was a big line to get your food—just a buffet style thing, but everything I had was tasty and well cooked. We had to leave our passports when we paid for some reason which I don’t like doing. One of the long-term volunteers came and sat down and talked us through a load of really obvious stuff and things I didn’t care about. It took ages. We were then palmed off on someone else who took us around the dog parts of the park and told us where a lot of things were that we wouldn’t need, said that there was nil chance of getting rabies as well as where all the runs were. Most of them looked quite good. Loads of space for the dogs to muck about in, trees, huts, climbing frames etc. Not a bad life compared to the PDSA back home—plus they get walks too. Not every day, but it’s a change of scenery for them every now and again.
We were also taken to a small village(?) area just off the main road down a little mud path where there were more runs and a few shacks dotted about where all the Mahouts and their families lived. It was their version of a council estate I suppose, and there was rubbish everywhere with chickens eating it, broken bits of wood and plastic lying about and elephant-people laundry hanging everywhere. It was horrible. Especially that they could make it nice if they could be bothered. A lick of paint, recycling in bins, couple of nails, voila!
After the tour we just got right into the action. We were in the clinic area which was where all the mankiest dogs were. I didn’t wanna touch most of them cos they were covered in scabs, blood, had broken legs, mental issues or a tendency to curl one out and then flick it at you (not even messing). I know I came to help the animals but this is pushing it. I just muddled my way throughout the day trying not to get germs. We walked the clinic dogs, swept and scrubbed the floor while a couple of others cleaned the little cages they were in and put fresh water and food down for em. There was some spare time so we walked a couple of normal dogs from the runs. It’s quite hard work and doesn’t feel very rewarding but I suppose it still kinda helps.
So after work we pottered over to our rooms. They just said that there were three rooms, and we have to make up our own minds where to go. What a kerfuffle, I’ll tell you. One girl Sabrina was whinging that she should get her own room cos she’d been in dorms for two weeks. How’s that our problem? If everyone else let her do this I’d share with her just so she didn’t get her way. We decided that it would be me, Lauren and Robbie in one room, the Frenchies (Sam, Ev and Fred) in one and Sabrina and Sarina in another.
The rooms were shocking. On the outside they seem okay: rustic looking and they have a view of the elephant pen and some mountains. Definite potential. Then we opened the door. Looking in, I turned on the light. Not much happened apart from my heart sinking. I looked at the four beds (two were bunks) as a big ol’ cockroach traipsed across the floor. My face must have been the same colour as the walls (sick green smeared with dirt) as I looked into the bathroom, which was attached to the main room but outside, so there were insects knocking about all over the walls and floor. Bad enough that we were sharing—we never share, not because we’re spoilt, but because we both like to have the option to hide away from people at times and have some privacy—but the door has no lock on it, the mozzie nets have great dirty holes in them, the floor’s dirty, there are gaps under the doors and windows so insects have free reign, there’s nowhere to put our stuff, the beds are hard, the room is roasting and only has one fan that points at the top bunk, so unless you’re there its useless, we have to throw our bog roll in a bin and the shower’s cold. There’s some lovely elephant pictures on the wall though….
It’s a nightmare. The mouldy cherry on the out-of-date cake that has been my day, if you will. It makes me want to leave. We unpacked and tried to make the place a bit more homely (it didn’t work) before heading out to a similar meal as earlier in the day. Got talking to Sam as he’s a bit of an outsider so we took him under our wing and had an expensive ฿80 beer and talked for ages to avoid going back to the room even though I was shattered.