Just left Thailand… Heading for India

Just left Thailand… Heading for India

Sep 29

Hey!  We’re at the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand! The Elephant Nature Park was started by Lek Chailert in 1996 to rescue and heal Thai elephants. The Thai elephant population has been getting smaller and smaller for a while. Elephants used to be greatly respected in Thailand until people started using them for labor. The main business for elephants was logging, until it was banned in Thailand. Now mostly they are used for tourism, doing tricks, giving rides, or on street corners where people pay to feed them. The elephants are treated horribly by their mahouts (elephant trainers). They are found in the wild and taken away from their mothers. They are tied standing in cages for days, being beaten and stabbed by their mahouts, starved and deprived of sleep. They do this to teach the elephant to obey orders. The elephants aren’t treated any better after they are put to work. Their mahouts continually abuse them, beating them, stabbing them with hooks, and shooting them with slingshots. The main goal of the Elephant Nature Park is to buy the elephants from their owners and teach people about this problem to eventually try and stop this abuse. It is a really nice place for the elephants. They get lots of food, fields to wander around in, they get washed every day, and there are vets to take care of the elephants with injuries. The mahouts here are kind to the elephants and never beat them. And Lek comes in every day to see them. They really love her. The moment she walks near them they all rush up to her. She sits under them and sings to them when she’s here. I went with her the other day. It was so cool! We’ve been doing jobs in the morning and afternoon like making food or shoveling elephant dung. We also went with a vet to see what they usually do around the park, we cut sugarcane and replanted parts of it, walked with the elephants, built a fence, and tied cloths blessed by monks around trees to stop people from cutting them down. In our free time we all hang out and talk and watch the elephants. Today we went tubing in the river! Besides the elephants there are tons of dogs (some of them bite), cats, buffaloes, pigs, some horses, and a bear! We got to go in with her and it came up to us and let us touch her, she bit my knee! Another creature they have no shortage of is the lovely mosquito. Not so great. But other than itchy bug bites everything is going great! We met tons of really cool people here. We’re having an awesome time! I’ll post another blog soon! Bye!

More On Our Travels…

More On Our Travels…

Sep 10
Hey, we’re in Thailand!   Since we left New Hope we’ve been to Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. It was really hard leaving the kids. After being there awhile we really got attached to our new friends in Beijing. We’ve been missing them.After we left New Hope we went into Beijing for a few days. We went to the Forbidden City, which was the Emperor’s Palace. We got a tour guide and walked around while she told us about the history of the palace, like what happened in certain buildings and where the emperor lived or worked. It was really interesting to hear about everything that happened there. Then we went to Tianamen Square where a lot of important historical events in China happened. We had a good time there and filmed some stuff for the website. We also went to the Arts district in Beijing which was really cool.  There were tons of galleries and cool shops.After a couple days in Beijing we flew to Shanghai. We were out walking almost the whole time we were there! We went to the Bund, which is a walkway along the river that runs through Shanghai. On one side of the river all the buildings architecture looks old but the buildings on the other side all look really new, with lights and moving advertisements all over them. We went at night when everything was lit up, and it looked so amazing. While we were there, we met the guy whose book was voted best cookbook in the world! He took us to a restaurant where they were serving his food and it was really good. He gave us advice on where to eat while we were there. He also showed us around Shanghai.

He brought us to the tallest building in the world, which has a glass floor. I actually walked out on it, but my dad was scared. Usually I’m not good with heights but it was really awesome. It was so cool to look at the city from so high up.

We also saw a temple which was the first building built in Shanghai! It was also the tallest building in the world when it was built. It was kind of weird to see this temple in the middle of huge modern buildings and freeways and lights all around. One day we walked out of our hotel and saw a man walking by with a grocery bag. It was meowing! He was bringing the cat home for food. That definitely ruined breakfast. Besides that Shanghai was great.

When we flew in to Hong Kong we could tell it was different. It was on the beach and the air was a lot clearer than in Beijing or Shanghai. And when we walked trough the airport all the signs were in English! It was a lot easier trying to get food when you speak the same language. We stayed with a guy from the U.S. who was there for work. It was nice to stay in an apartment after the small hotel rooms. One thing about Hong Kong that wasn’t different was the heat! While we were there we went to the Night market. The Night market is a street that is completely taken up by all kinds of stalls set up in the road, which are only open at night. They were selling all kinds of things, from misspelled t-shirts to toys to bumper stickers saying funny things. It was really fun to walk around and see what kinds of things everyone was selling. We met a guy there who was living in India and offered to let us stay with him when we got there. We also saw the cricket market where they sell crickets for fighting. They have them set up on tables and there are people testing the crickets, poking them to see if they would do good in a fight. It’s really loud with so many crickets.

Once in Hong Kong, we were able to go to the hospital to visit our friend Shannon from New Hope! She was there taking care of one of the babies from New Hope who was scheduled for surgery. She introduced us to one of the doctors from MedArt.  They are doctors who are also musicians, who play music to raise money so they can pay for children’s surgeries. I think that’s a really amazing idea.

Next we flew to Bangkok. We were going to take a train but the next tickets available were for a week later.  When we got out of the airport we met the aunt of one of Buck’s friends, who drove us to stay with her family who lived in Sattihip, outside of Bangkok. They live on the navy base because our host is a captain in the navy. One of his sons, Beer, was visiting while we were there. We stayed in a room up on the roof but we spent most of our time out. While we were there we got to go and walk around the beach on the naval base and go swimming. We also got to go sailing to one of the islands off the coast. We got to eat lots of Thai food while staying with them. Thai people like really SPICY food.

We then worked at a school for children with Autism or Down Syndrome. It was a nice place and the kids seemed really happy to have us there. They had toys, movies, two trampolines, and a play structure outside. There were also rooms for the children that lived there. The woman who ran the place was very kind, and it was really inspiring what she is doing for those kids.  We hung out with the little kids in their room and some of the older kids outside. We had a really fun time staying in Sattihip.

We took a military van into Bangkok. The next day we went to the Grand palace! The Grand palace was the home of the kings of Bangkok. It’s a really impressive place to walk through; there were huge statues and golden buildings everywhere. We got some really great pictures there. Most of the time we were in Bangkok after that we just walked around. One night my dad decided we should go to this Thai restaurant he heard was good. After a couple of minutes we got completely lost in a dark street in the middle of Bangkok. We walked around for a long time going in circles asking directions from tok tok (a crazy motorcycle taxi with no walls) drivers. After a while we got some one to show us where it was. After dinner we came out and it was pouring rain and we waited forever for a taxi to stop for us.

We just arrived in Chiang Mai yesterday and it is really different. There are no huge buildings, and its not so crowded everywhere. The weather here is really nice too. In a few days we’ll be going to an elephant rescue place outside of Chiang Mai to work there. That sounds like a ton of fun. I’m going to go now, I’ll write another blog soon! Bye