Dah bah no me bahDecember 25, 2023
From an impulsive idea to the best possible experience!!January 27, 2024
Sebastian Beltz – 7 weeks photography intern: Reflecting on my six weeks at KSES, it has been a period brimming with fresh experiences, profound insights, and the creation of countless lasting memories. Personally, I use photos and videos to capture these precious moments. As I browse through my gallery now, each photo sparks memories of my journey, and I’m eager to share them with you. Because it was my first time traveling alone, leaving Europe and going to another continent, I felt quite overwhelmed when I finally arrived in Chiang Mai. That’s why it helped me a lot to meet the two other interns, Kaat and Laura, to explore the city with them and to start the trip the next day as a threesome. After the unique 4-hour drive in the back of a pick-up truck, leaving behind everything I knew about civilization, we arrived in the beautiful village Ban Naklang. And honestly, it did surpass all my expectations. Kids playing football on dusty roads, dogs, cats, and cows crossing paths, and everyone greeting you with a friendly “da blue,” I instantly felt welcome. The Karen people are a beautiful, hardworking, and joyful community, creating a village that feels like one big family. Despite our differences in language, religion, and culture, they effortlessly instilled in me a profound sense of belonging. This close connection is made possible because KSES collaborates closely with the villagers. For example, my Homestay Baw Eh always cooked for me, I would often meet Nee in her coffee shop at Base, and I could always ask our Local-guide Gae about anything in the village or in the forest during our daily hikes.
Before arriving here, my knowledge of elephants was limited. I had only seen them once or twice in a zoo, unable to grasp their true nature. Spending nearly every day close to them for six weeks significantly altered my perspective, and I developed a deep appreciation for these gentle giants. Witnessing their harmonious existence, freely roaming fields and forests without having to entertain tourists, felt like a true blessing. And because I was also collecting data on their socialization, I can now say that the similarities to human behavior are not hard to recognize. The best example for that was definitely the small family consisting of Sri Prai, Dodo, and Junior, whom you could rarely see separated from each other. Observing the six-month-old Junior learning essential skills from his parents was particularly fascinating—with both Sri Prai and Dodo consistently present to guide him in trunk usage and dietary choices. While I thoroughly enjoyed observing this trio, I also developed a deep connection with the other elephants. Getting to know them, understanding their unique traits, and capturing countless photos became a fulfilling journey. Despite my limited photography experience, they made it incredibly easy for me. I learned a lot not only about photography but also videography because I was managing the TikTok page of KSES. While I’m still not a huge fan of the TikTok concept, I genuinely enjoyed creating those videos.
Coming together with a team of incredible human beings, working towards a shared goal, was truly an experience I will never forget. So, thank you to everyone I met on this journey for making it unforgettable and enriching. As we part ways, the memories we’ve created will forever hold a special place in my heart.