My Fantastic experience @ Maetaman Elephant camp
Post by : jibbiee
Post Date : January 1970
Travel Date : September 2010
Destinations : Chiang Mai
Activities : Elephant riding
Chiang Mai is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Thailand for both Thai and international tourists. “Rose of the North” is a nickname of this city as it has plenty of Art, Culture & Heritage with a multitude of fascination such as royal palaces, historical sites and temples. Besides, its natural is also blessed with an aesthetic mountains, waterfalls and river. I am the one who fall in love with Chiang Mai and have frequently visited there for many years. Recently, my family and I were so impressed with our new exposure in Chiang Mai. We have learned thoroughly with “Chang” or “Elephant”, the symbolic animal of Thailand
Maetaman elephant camp, Mae Tang is my destination. Leaving from my hotel with heavy rain made me a bit worry. Because it is the rainy season, it took about an hour getting to the camp. Luckily, the rain stopped when I arrived at the camp. I was greeted by the mahout instructor, Mr. Jean. The mahout training program begins with enjoying elephant show. Elephants hold “Sawasdee” sign to welcome and salute the audiences, showed their intelligence by walking with two legs, keeping things into the basket, using their snout to put the hat on mahout’s head, playing an instrument and dancing along the music. Surprisingly, they can play not only football but also basketball and golf. The highlight of the show is the show of painting the picture of tree and flowers on elephant dung paper by trunk nosed artists.
After finish the show, the mahout instructor trains me to be familiar with an elephant. My elephant named Natalie. She is 9 year-old. I was trained the basic commands for elephants such as to walk forward – backward, sit down or stand up and was trained how to ride on and get off an elephant. For example, if you want her to sit down, you have to say “non” and say “look”, if you want her to stand up. Then the mahout took me into the jungle. Natalie and I walked through the green rice field which cultivated by local farmers. Because it just stopped raining, the sky is very clear. Everything seems fresh. I took a deep breath to get some fresh air. This is one of the happiest moments in my life. I rode elephant across Mae Tang River to visited Lee Saw village to learn their tradition and life style from their performance such as playing, singing, demonstrating shooting the crossbow.
On the way back to camp, Jean shared me about some interesting stories about elephants. He told me that elephant has an important relationship with Thai people long time ago. In Thai history, well-trained elephants were considered as admired warriors in Thai army. Kings mounted on their trusting elephants fighting the enemy to defend our country while people in remote areas trained elephants to drag logs and used them as vehicles.
Another incredibility is the relationship between mahout and elephant. They are seemed like father and son. At Maetaman elephant camp, most of mahouts are inherited by their generation. Each mahout is descended how to train elephant from his ancestor. He has to take a very good care for his elephant. Though elephant has a huge body comparing with human, its immunity system is weaker. Elephant takes only 3-4 hours sleeping at night, so it eats and plays most of the time. In one day, an elephant will eat about 200 kg of food and drink water about 200 liters. In case of working or commuting, elephant has many ways to spare food such as grabbing grass in its snout, or putting the grass in its ivory space.
I enjoyed with my chosen elephant. Natalie is very cute and smart. When she is hungry or wants bananas or sugar cans, she will stop walking and lift her snout. If I don’t give her some, she blows me or shakes her head. At the camp, I studied about nutrition for elephants, practiced elephant bathing and receive a certificate of achievement at the end of program.
My fantastic experiences at Maetaman elephant camp will be one of my most memorable trips because of these following aspects. First, I got a chance to know about Thai elephants, meeting the real mahouts and find out what they do every day for their elephants, how to communicate with elephants, how to ride bath and give basic command to elephants. Moreover, I have learned more about different lifestyles of local people and get close to natural richness in the countryside of Thailand. Lastly, I can be a part of supporting Thailand Tourism
“I believe that many fascinating places are still existing in Thailand. I would like to encourage everyone take a chance to explore themselves and gain some valuable experiences as I did.”