Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle

Winter 2015/2016

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine

Issue link: http://read.dreamscapes.ca/i/606819

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 63

DREAMSCAPES WINTER 2015/2016 42 "WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU ABOUT THE ELEPHANT'S HEALTH?" ASKS THE PATARA ELEPHANT FARM MAHOUT (ELEPHANT RIDER) AS HE HANDS ME A GIANT SNOWBALL OF ELEPHANT DUNG. H e takes my cupped hands, which are holding the dung, and lifts them close to my reluctant nose. I instinctively retreat. Inhaling a good whiff of elephant dung is not in my nature. He pleads. I cautiously bring my nose closer to the dry straw-like dung in my hands. Surprisingly, there is little smell. Mind you I can't see them marketing any ele- phant dung cologne anytime soon. The mahout explains if the dung is very moist that could indicate an illness. Ele- phants have an enormous appetite; they can eat about 200–250 kilograms of food per day and excrete 50 kilograms of dung a day. Dung is used and processed for many things: fertilizer, paper for notebooks, book- marks and even coffee. My Thailand sensory adventure has taken me to the Patara Elephant Farm located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Participating in their "Elephant Owner for a Day" program I am learning about elephant breeding, training and approaching an elephant, elephant behaviour, feeding, healthcare, walking an elephant, bathing and its role in Thai society. My hosts first give me a red-infused chambray mahout shirt to wear with my boxer-style bathing suit. They explain the elephant's role in society, both ceremonial and how it was used extensively in the log- ging industry. The farm breeds the animals and is also a home to abused elephants. Thankfully, those looking for a little ele- phant dance or trick won't find it here. The mahoutexplains key Thai commands for the elephants. Realizing my Thai lan- guage skills are extremely limited, I write A THAI SENSORY ADVENTURE BY CHRIS RYALL TOP: The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun in Thai) is one of Chiang Rai's most popular attractions. OPPOSITE TOP: Rice is grown primarily in the northern regions of Thailand and is one of the country's biggest exports. OPPOSITE MIDDLE LEFT: It's bath time for my elephant companion at Patara Elephant Farm. OPPOSITE MIDDLE RIGHT: Fruit-carving is an art in Thailand. Chris Ryall

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle - Winter 2015/2016