Day 277, Mon 11th Nov
Emily and Burm came to pick us up around 9am to take us to their elephant sanctuary, BEES. After a hasty trip to the post office to apply for a new passport – the space issue has become pressing – they took us to see a couple of beautiful waterfalls and the highest mountain in Thailand before arriving at the sanctuary to see the elephants and 8 or 9 cats and dogs!
The elephant Mae Kam and Mae Jum Pee are very cool, we fed them guavas and then accompanied the mahouts to the stream to bathe them. Then a nice Thai supper and some cuddles with the little dog Kip and one of the cute grey cats. What an amazing first day
Had a lovely journey up with Burms & Emily; visited lots of waterfalls on the way home – v spectacular. Then we fed ELEPHANTS – VERY COOL!!!!
Their farm as a couple of authentic Thai buildings around a beautiful fish pond with 10 dogs (Mimi, Toto, Gong, Toby, Mollie, Kip, Pailin, Panda, Sun, Dow) & 8 cats (Gizmo, Tigger, Lucky, Suki, Dani, Milo, Mee Suuk, Cocoa), 3 tortoises, a terrapin, oh, not forgetting the two rather large elephants.
Up earlyish and then a walk with the elephants and more guava feeding – Mae Kam in particular seems to be an eating machine! (she’s amazingly, she’s like a conveyor belt; in one end & out the other ) Then back to base to help with tidying up in the elephants sleeping area – much elephant poo to shovel – cleaning out the tortoise and terrapin pool and feeding the fish. It is almost like a mini open zoo here. Oh, and we helped to make an elephant pool for bath time later.
Loved damming the river & digging out an elephant bath… Mae Jum Pee was particularly funny when we used it; we threw buckets of water over her to bathe her & she hosed water everywhere with her trunk!
Most of the elderly people from Maecham came down for an opening ceremony this evening, we were welcomed, blessed, and given two string bracelets from each person; it was really lovely and all of the old folks seemed very happy.
It was a lovely ceremony; I’m sure they also loved the chance to get together for a quick gossip as well. What’s particularly nice is that the elephant sanctuary may be run by Burm & Emily, but it involves the whole village.
Day 279, Wed 13th Nov
A slightly later start today (hard work on the new hut starts tomorrow) and off to cut some elephant grass and sweetcorn stems for Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee to eat later, before another of Burm’s delicious lunches and a little jaunt to see the two old ladies that could not make it to the ceremony yesterday – more bracelets for us and a small gift of soy milk (they love it apparently) and some baht for them, we both love the way that the sanctuary helps the village as well as the animals.
Pretty easy day today, but hot! We are both a bit dozy…
A day of prep for me on building site – clearing it of weeds – & then of to cut some elephant food; those callouses are building on my hands… & not for the usual reasons!!!
Day 280, Thurs 14th Nov
Fascinating how they seem to be able to make anything with a bit of wood, a hammer & a hatchet. By the end of the day we had 9 concrete footings in & the posts up as well – all starting to take shape.
A relatively easy day for me, until we discover that the water, and then the power are off, and I have to spend 2 hours washing by hand – I have a very sore back!
Day 281, Fri 15th Nov
Day two in the house…. No Charlene, Chardonay or Big Brother ‘Geordie’ voiceover in sight. We have the full structure up & rafters on… these boys go long on the discussing but also don’t mess about in the construction… probably the lack of tea breaks…
A bucket shower this morning – the water did not come back in time, unfortunately – then off to harvest rice in the fields with Emily and Mae La (Burm’s mum), I think we may have been as much of a hindrance than a help though, poor Mae La had to chop down the length of our rice stacks as they were too long, or not all the same length; whilst also managing to cut about 3 times more rice than either of us… then back to the house to rest while poor Mae La made lunch – the woman is a workaholic!
I learnt to make sweet sticky rice in a bamboo tube too, and taste it later
Day 282, Sat 16th Nov
Up early to cut lots of corn for the elephants – and they eat A LOT – then back for lunch and elephant bathing (+ water fight). Emily and I ended up wetter than the elephants, I am sure this had something to do with Burm and Keir…
It’s not my fault if T is on the other side of the elephant to where I am… a few drops of water overshot, the next thing I know & T & Emily are dousing me in water… Mae Jum Pi looked on in amusement as I was soaked… the injustice of it all!
Then a shower and off to Loi Krathong, the first day of the festival, in Maechaem. We had fun playing a couple of games (Keir sucks at darts, but seems to be a crackshot!), trying interesting looking street food and alcoholic slushies whiles watching the lanterns light up the sky.
I’d like to point out that:
- The darts were lighter than the actual balloons themselves…you had to hurl them to even reach the balloons!
- I hadn’t had any alcohol at this point…
2 cans of Chang beer later…
- I shot the bullseye out of the target on the pistol range (it was just like watching Hank in Vegas, but sadly without the magnum!).
- I threw the tiny hoop over the beer bottle from 10 feet away… & walked away with a litre bottle of Chang beer (which I promptly gave to Shin).
Lighting the paper lanterns & watching them head skywards took me back to my last visit in Thailand for Elaine’s birthday & our 2010 new year’s eve in Cornwall. These lanterns are even more fun – they have fireworks attached so bangers, roman candles, etc keep going off as they head into the night sky… cool
There were also lots of shopping stalls… how happy was T! She suddenly found that she really needed the flip flops that she didn’t buy in Chang Mai… they were only 50 Baht (£1) so I gave in… more shoes to carry.
Day 283, Sun 17th Nov
The boys are still hut building, so we began making our Loi Krathong offerings – much to the amusement of Burm and Emily’s helper and English student- Shin. Apparently we have made them too large, or something…
Time to start getting the roof on & adding the posts for the porch… it’s really coming together now.
That evening we are back at the festival to release the Loi Krathong offering into the river – they’re like floating flower arrangements. T’s done a great job of our offering & we make a joint wish as we release it… Arsenal for the Premiership… don’t tell Tracey!
Watching local Thai boxing was interesting – some real mis-matches there – particularly some of the kids getting battered senseless!
Whilst Burm, Shin & were doing this Emily & T went shopping… be afraid, be very afraid!
Day 284, Mon 18th Nov
More work on the roof – almost there. Good timing as we get torrential rain later in the afternoon – fortunately it’s proven to be waterproof.
A side trip to the internet café (still no wifi L) for some travel research and to check our emails – just found out that Martin is going to be a dad!! Then back home to clean up the old hut and go through yet more photos – I wish I didn’t take so many…
Day 285, Tue 19th Nov
Finished the roof & then back into the saw-mill to cut more logs to put the floor in…
There still seems to be a big gap in the roof to me – I hope that is not Keir’s idea of being a completer finisher…?
Ha, Ha, ran out of tiles 2 short of a full roof… But a heavy downpour half an hour later proved beyond a doubt that it was waterproof
Went for a half-day elephant walk this morning – though it took almost half a day to find them – you would think it would be easy to spot two 3,000 odd kilo animals, but apparently not! Then came back for lunch (some more cooking lessons) and some sewing with Emily; I have just made my first pillow case .
Day 286, Wed 20th Nov
Burm’s dad came round today to help us put all the floor beams & braces in… we now have a floor…. Hard part is done.
Not much for me to do today, it seems that a woman’s place is most certainly NOT on the building site… so I made an envelope cushion on Emily’s sewing machine instead
Day 287, Thu 21st Nov
Up exceptionally early, 0300… T was obviously happy!, to head to Mae Hang Son to see the sun flowers. The best bit was lying in the back of the pick-up with T wrapped in a duvet watching the night sky turn to dawn.
The getting up was a bit traumatic, but it seems that one can sleep surprisingly well in the back of a pick up as long as covers and pillows are to hand! Poor Shin, Emily and Burm had to sit inside the truck.
The sunflowers – not the same as our ones – were amazing, there were literally thousands of them (and a similar number of photos to cull, unfortunately – we spent a couple of hours messing around and posing with them before driving back via Hot Coffee (fab café & orphanage – though only one child to be seen in the former) and the temple in which Burm served as a novice.
Day 288, Fri 22nd Nov
Burm & Emily made sure we spent the whole day with the elephants today – followed the stream into the jungle until we caught up with them for lunch then took them down the to the river to bathe… they were like two little children playing around in the river – blowing bubbles with their trunks, squirting water then splashing each other… magical.
The elephants bathing in the river were a real highlight of our stay with Burm and Emily; very cool and very funny to watch these two old ladies messing about in the water. Shin’s sweet bamboo sticky rice cooked over a fire alongside the river came a close second today; I may be addicted…
Day 289, Sat 23rd Nov
We were lucky enough to be invited for the day to a local wedding between friends of Burm & Emily’s (Gunn – Thai & Laura – Dutch); great fun, & we met a load of other nationalities who taught at the international school in Chiang Mai. A few of them even came back with us to see the elephant – lovely to see other people’s reaction to feeding the elephants.
Up and out for the very early – they start at breakfast here – wedding of Burm’s friend Gunn. We had a great time meeting Laura, Gunn and their friends, joining in the dance procession, drinking rum (well, I did, 2 weeks of temperance were beginning to take their toll) etc. Then bringing Max, Nok, Karen and Tara back to see the elephants. Karen, a lovely Scottish girl recovering form a bad, but very lucky escape from a scooter accident was particularly enamoured, it was really lovely to watch.
Day 290, Sun 24th Nov
A beautiful start to the day as we had breakfast with the elephants… felt positively frugal as Mae Kam wolfed down half a ton of fruit for my 2 bits of toast & sausage!
Then the sad trip back to Chiang Mai & the end of our elephant adventure… we’ve had a fantastic time & I’ve learnt a lot about building with wood… roll on the castle!
Caught up with Tracey’s friend Rob for a few G&T’s at a couple of bars with cool music… definitely ‘Led Zepp’ Rob…!
2nd bar had some type of fusion swing on… very retro but nice, drinking G&T’s with the night sky above us… I’m actually starting to feel like I’m on holiday for once
A surprise last breakfast down by the mahouts hut nearly went gloriously wrong when Mae Kam smelt the guavas in the back and started moving at quite a pace in pursuit of the pick up. She also seemed quite keen on our breakfast before Aneit and Pong (the mahouts) distracted her with some more suitable fare – I am sure a couple of sausages, scrambled eggs and papaya would have done little to slake her formidable appetite, but she would have enjoyed them nonetheless.
Then sad goodbyes to the boys, Mae’s Kam and Jumpee, the dogs and Lucky the wondercat, sadly couldn’t find my little favourite Gizmo, he was probably off destroying Burm’s mum’s crops or up to some similar mischief.
Emily and Burm took us to see a few more sights and have some lunch and then we were back in Chiang Mai. We will miss them and their household!
Met Rob (Barty – he is really Sara’s friend, but we have now adopted him) for a turn about some nice little bars and then fell into a much-needed slumber. Getting up at 6am every day takes its toll, despite the early nights :-)