Making memories in Ban NaklangJanuary 9, 2024
Exploring, Conservation and Research: My Experience with KSES in ThailandFebruary 1, 2024
By Katya – 6 weeks intern – My KSES journey started with my parents sending me a website link while I was in Vietnam: “Hey, aren’t you flying to Chiang Mai soon? We came across this sanctuary close to there, maybe you can pay a visit if it fits into your schedule?”. Well, the rest is history and instead of paying a single visit, I started my 6-week-internship on the 17th of December last year…
First of all, the time at KSES felt so at home because of my homestay. Nee created a sort of new family for the time being and I have always felt so welcome and warm around her. She is very familiar to all the visitors because she sells the best drinks in the village at base, but for me she has a special place in my heart. I will remember all the little things: the nights on the couch with the three kittens chatting or watching TV together, having lots of snacks and drinks together, going to or from base together by motorbike even though it is a 2 minute walk, laughing at funny things one of us did or said, doing the hair of my neighbour and favourite kid Moozy, having an inside BBQ for New Year and dancing with all the family and friends and I think I can continue like this for a while. Because of Nee, Chatue and their daughter Bah Mee I have learned about their culture on a daily basis. They brought me to their friends several times and taught me fishing from the river by learning me the technique of throwing their nets. Wherever we went, everyone welcomed me with open arms: we cooked and had lunch together, we played volleyball at the local school and they all showed me things I had never seen before.
Furthermore, the elephant herd obviously defined my time at KSES too. Even after seeing them almost every day for six weeks I still appreciate the opportunity to be able to watch them closely and, for me personally, the past time has been a great gift. We were able to see Junior dust for the first time and saw the other elephants just being elephants too, each with their own character: Sri Prai with her squeaking every time her mahout made clear she could not go into the farmers’ huts (once even dusting him to show her irritation), Too Meh (my favourite elephant) breaking trees and fences whenever she felt like it, Dodo being the nicest dad for Junior, Mae Doom being on guard most of the time and still getting scared of small things like motorbikes and dogs, etc etc.
The whole team around KSES is the last thing I would like to address. It is these people that guided me through my internship and who I have had a lot of fun with. Gae, the local guide from Ban Naklang, who I was often matched to to do research on the same elephant. She would do foraging and I would observe the behaviour. Together we climbed through all the plants while watching the elephants, threw things from the forest to each other (and to Noo Tah: Gen Thong’s mahout) during the hikes, laughed and talked a lot and found the last wild passion fruits of the season. She taught me so much about the jungle too: from Pakinyaw names for everything to animals and plants to eat (like huge spiders on only my third day!). Or even the search for and identification of medicinal plants, which I used for my presentation about Thai Traditional Medicine. I will always remember the rest of the staff and interns as well. Even though this was my first Christmas and New Year away from home, and even though it was around 30 degrees Celsius, we made it a great time: we cooked together and played games. In addition, Sebastian and I went to Chiang Mai for the whole weekend, where I had a great time too.
All in all, I’m sure that I missed at least fifty other things I wanted to mention, but I hope this paints a picture of the amazing time I had here. This experience was unlike anything I have ever done in my life and if I could do it again, I would 100% do it. I’m sure I will be back some day but for now: Dablue! 🙂