By Elizabeth George – 2 week volunteer
My journey to KS Elephant Sanctuary started on Sunday at 9am with a pick up from a guest house in Chiang Mai. I met my fellow volunteers’ who are four friendly and young Hungarian work colleagues. I was greeted by the lovely Lauren and our very strong driver Koh who proceeded to load up the truck with all of our heavy luggage. We then sat down and began talking to each other becoming acquainted with each other. They are a wonderful group of young people who all work together and are so friendly.
We travelled for approximately four hours and stopped for an authentic Thai meal for lunch. We then continued our long journey up and down the winding roads of the steep mountainous region.
When we arrived in the village and we were all taken to our various homestays by the friendly staff. I am staying with the sweet and kind Moodah. I then settled into my room, which is set up very well with a life saving mosquito net covering the entire double bed and a rotating fan to keep cool.
After settling in, I went with Carly, another very friendly member of staff, to my homestays’ eating area. I had brought various items of stationery for the children, some towels for Moodah and some aftershave for her husband. The amount of joy I received watching their son and his family opening the different items was indescribable. It was so heartwarming to watch and brought me so much joy, and they were so grateful for the gifts.
We then proceeded to make dinner with Moodah. She cooked a scrumptious omelette, and I helped cook the stir-fried vegetables, which was very exciting as I have never cooked over an open flame before. Then the best part, eating the delicious food we had helped to prepare. And it was delicious! Moodah then tied a Geeju around my wrist and blessed both it and me. Then it was off to bed early in preparation for our hike the next morning.
I believe I woke the roosters up at 3am as they only started to crow after I turned my light on! I sat in my room till it became light, simply enjoying the cool morning air and eagerly anticipating the hike to the elephants. Then we all had breakfast together and became more closely acquainted with the staff and other volunteers.
We then set off on our long hike, which requires a decent amount of fitness, which I don’t have, but the staff and other volunteers patiently waited for me and let me do the hike at my own pace taking breaks whenever I needed. I made it and was so happy to her the tinkling of the bells around the elephants necks. This provided the motivation to keep hiking and the rush of excitement when I saw Mae Doom was exhilarating. I walked up to the beautiful Mae Doom and fed her my bag of bananas until they were all gone. Then I saw the beautiful Too Meh walking down to us to be fed.
After feeding them, we stood back and let them wander and do what they wanted to do. We worked around what/where they wanted to do/go. It was such a satisfying experience to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat and being allowed to just be elephants. Not working to satisfy humans but rather, living as elephants should. KSES allows elephants to be just that, semi-wild and free to roam and forage as they please. This has been the most satisfying experience I’ve had with elephants and I sincerely hope I can come back very soon to see these beautiful, majestic creatures in their natural habitat.