I can’t believe it’s almost my last day here. Unless something changes, this will be my last post while I’m actually on my trip. Again, I’m writing as my kids nap. They had a big night last night with their parents and so they are more tired today than normal.
Yesterday afternoon, we got to take “off”. We went to visit an elephant camp. I’m sure right off, that doesn’t sound like much, but it was very interesting and we even got to ride the elephants. Let me give you a little history of the elephant and Thailand…
Many years ago, the elephants were domesticated and used for logging. What that means is that they would take the elephants up on the mountain to bring down trees for wood. This wood was used to barter with other countries in order to avoid them attacking Thailand. The elephant was big and strong and the best “vehicle” to bring the trees down from the mountain. As time went on, tractors and other things were found to bring the trees down, but then more, smaller trees would have to be cleared for tractors to get to the trees. Eventually, it was found that the elephant was just the best source of transporting the wood.
Unfortunately, after a while, the king of Thailand said that there would be no more wood trade with other countries. This left huge amounts of domesticated elephants, with no where to go. Thailand decided to re-introduce these animals into the wild. The US liked that idea and partnered with Thailand in a program that would take domesticated animals and release them back to their natural habitat. Of course, after spending so many years in captivity, this did not work. Many of the elephants could not survive the wild and many were killed for their skins and tusks by poachers.
Today, most of these domesticated elephants are now in elephant farms or sanctuaries in Thailand. These elephants are used to give rides to visitors (and we are talking 30 minute – 1 hour rides, unlike the circus) which are considered very easy work for them (considering the size logs they used to transport!). They are trained to do “tricks”, but they are trained in a kind manner and most of them are not what we would consider “circus” tricks. They aren’t things taught that isn’t already somewhat natural to the elephant.
All that to say, the trip was unbelievable. These huge animals were so gentle and loving…we have some awesome pictures and I can’t wait to get home and post the pictures.
Speaking of home…Jenna’s birthday was yesterday and I think she had a good one. Steve told me he was taking her out to dinner. I’m curious as to how many times they’ve gone out to dinner since I’ve been gone. But they still seem to be doing well and I will tell you, I couldn’t be more proud of Steve. I mean…he has done exceptionally well. Now, he might be not telling me everything, but it seems he is really doing well.
At any rate, we’ll leave around 7pm tomorrow night to fly to Bangkok where we will spend the night. Our flight from Bangkok to Tokyo leaves early Monday morning and we’ll arrive in Chicago about 4pm their time. I should get back to TN by 7pm on Monday night. I took Tuesday off (thank goodness) and then it’s back to work on Wednesday. Well, I’m going to run…get a few things done before the kiddos wake up. I may not get to blog again before I get home, but I’ll definitely post pics when I arrive.