Hey! That's an elephant.
I have been so excited to go to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary I felt like a 7-year old going to the zoo for the first time. I had booked an overnight stay (2 full days of elephant fun) with a group up in the jungle. They are strongly against the tourists riding the elephants and offer a day of pampering and playing with the elephants in stead.
We left early in the morning on a jeep and drove for 2 straight hours into the jungle, up into the mountain. The nature is lush and green and the mountains touch the clouds. Two jeeps filled with 6 people each stopped at camp 2. As soon as we left our vehicle we could see elephants playing in the water. It was a sight for soar eyes. We were led into a hut overlooking the elephants made entirely out of bamboo. We had a short safety briefing. (Don`t touch their belly, don`t make too many wild movements and don`t be afraid). After that we got to go down and feed the elephants who eat around 300 kg of food a day. Banana`s, sugar cane and other crops.
The elephants were smaller than African elephants, which I had seen before in Uganda, but nonetheless impressive creatures of a considerable size. We approached them slowly, and hesitantly, but as soon as they saw we had banana`s there was no stopping the elephants and we found ourselves surrounded in a few seconds. After feeding them, we bathe them, gave them a mud bath and swam with them at the waterfall. The elephants seemed very much at ease, and the Thai caretakers teased them and played with them to a point you did not feel uneasy swimming with such a giant creature. It is difficult to find words to describe such an experience so I am keeping it clean and simple. Go and try it.
After a day of elephant fun we went up to the jungle camp to sleep. Most of our group had signed up for 1 day only, so there were only 4 girls left including myself. We were assigned a sleeping place in a hut overlooking the river and a waterfall. The mosquito`s were plenty, and so were the sounds of the jungle surrounding us. After a swim in the river we cooked a Thai meal with our guide, and went to bed early as we had another day of trekking in front of us.
In the morning I wanted to put on my trekking shoes that I had left outside. So I told the girls that when I was in Uganda they warned us never to leave our shoes outside as spiders and other bugs would crawl into them. So I started shaking out my shoes and looking in them while I was telling this story and as fate would have it I had a gigantic spider in my right shoes, which I threw away immediately while screaming like a 5-year old. Our guide came running down the mountain, alarmed by my scream. As the Thai hero he was he removed the spider from my sneaker and smiled at me with his eyes rolling. Yes, I know I am being silly, but it was the biggest spider I have ever seen. (Yes, I know I am in the jungle)
After that little episode we watched the elephants play in the water and enjoyed the quite peace of the jungle around us. After lunch it was time for the real stuff, so we gathered our bags and went on. The heat made the mosquito repellent I had put on totally redundant as my sweat poured down my body. I needn`t say I got eaten alive by the little buggers. The trekking itself was wonderful and our guide hummed to Snoop Dog, which apparently he is a big fan of, and showed us around the villages of the Karen people. The nature was wonderful and the jungle possessed the peace and quite I had been longing for. After 3 hours of walking I craved air conditioning, a shower and my bed. The heat wears you down in half the amount of time.
So after a spider infested (being a little dramatic here), but great overnight stay in the jungle we went home satisfied and tired. What an experience!