I’m so excited to go back and relive this trip virtually. It was such a stunning trip for so many reasons, of course the beauty of Thailand but also mentally, and if I’m honest it’s what really started me on my journey to properly travel the world! It was the place where I knew that I had a passion for travelling, and I had to find a way to get out into the world no matter what. I always had wanted to but it was here that sparked the love again after so many years of struggle.
This is one trip I will never forget.
So, after many years of wishing one day I could get away again, in 2017 I finally booked this trip. It was a combined tour of Thailand and Cambodia with a company called http://www.wearebamboo.com with one week in each country. I loved the sound of it because it had both volunteering and ‘touring’ with a tour guide. The volunteering was definitely something I wanted to do, but also it’s nice to see the sites too. And honestly, it was the perfect mix. They got it just right. All the staff members, and especially our tour guide, who was with us for the whole 2 weeks, were AMAZING!
Whilst in Bangkok…
We arrive in Bangkok and spend 2 nights here meeting everyone, going around the markets, having meals and drinks together. Each tour group usually has about 5-15 people in it, and as mine only had 5 I honestly was a bit worried about how it would be, but to be honest, I later realised it was the best thing. We could get around so much quicker, and it really gave me the time to properly bond with the group I was with, which now I can call friends for life.
Here we also had a few trips out to the incredible temples, and a boat trip to see the floating markets, which were absolutely gorgeous. A lovely time to get to know everyone, and to buy some jewellery and fruit in the markets, whilst dodging tuktuks. After 2 days spent here we get a bus to Surin, where we will spend the majority of our week.
Next stop….Elephant Village!
One thing everyone thinks about when you say Thailand is of course Elephants, and boy this trip had plenty! As a lover of animals I’ve always wanted to volunteer with a programme where I would get to work closely with them so I was pretty excited for this.
During our time is Surin we stayed with a Thai family. This was a tiny little village in the countryside, and not much around. After getting settled in, and looking out the window of my shared room, I soon realise there is an massive Elephant in the garden. They actually have their own elephant, like a pet!! I learn that this is quite normal in this area, and as elephants often live as long as humans they grow up with their family, mainly they’re looked after by the male in the family and stay with them till they pass, which I just think is so adorable. You really get to see the bond they have too, which just makes your heart melt!
The thing I really loved about this company is the respect they gave to the locals, and in return they got back. We were advised against wearing small and tight clothing, which obviously at the beginning I’m concerned about my tanning time haha, but I soon realise what I’m really here for. Plus, also as we were out most days cutting down sugarcane, you honestly really don’t want to have your bare legs out!
Elephants just don’t stop eating!
Yup, they really don’t! So, the whole reason for this volunteer programme was essentially to help the families with their ‘pet’ elephant. You will have seen or heard many stories of tourists on elephant rides, and how it effects them physically, and plenty of other ways locals use their animals to get money of tourists. Well, the aim of this was to help make this stop. We were there to help the family with the day to day running of their Elephants, because then in turn they can go to work or school and earn their own way without relying on selling rides or photos, things really do go round in circles!
They really love sugarcane, it’s like a treat for them so we spent a lot of time cutting these for them, which was really tough because sugarcane is so thick- it takes a very large sharp knife to get through them.
We also had a few Thai speaking lessons, lessons about Elephants and other animals, thai cooking lessons and trips to local markets for the best pad thai I’ve ever had, yum! We spent an afternoon to help on a building for a school, we only managed to do a few layers of brick so it would be interesting to see how much as been built now. There was a trip to an area where they’re was some temples being built, and we learnt how to make paper out of Elephant poo! Such an fun packed week.
The best part..
Oh my goodness, this was incredible. Such an experience I couldn’t recommend more- bathing the Elephants!
As these creatures get pretty dusty and muddy we got the opportunity to take them on a walk towards the river and give them a bath. The five of us got given a elephant each, mine was a ‘baby’ but obviously quite a big one! For the size they are, they actually walk quite quick, and I think they probably knew what was coming. They absolutely LOVE bath time!! And these cheeky creatures do sure like to play, splashing water through their trucks at us, hiding under water, which was kinda frightening knowing how big they are, and how strong they’re trunks are. They also growl like lions which was really scary but I soon learnt this means they’re happy, and they did not stop growling. Beautiful! These pictures are golden to me, I sure will cherish these forever.
After this stunning week in Thailand, we’re off to Cambodia…