1.25.15 Sunday

Today was a very laid back day.  We first went back to the ENP office to donate more clothes.  Dontating clothes helps the Hill Tribe village that will end up receiving them and it makes more room in our suitcases to bring home market finds!! 🙂  From ENP office, we walked to Tai Paeth Gate, which was barely a quarter mile, for Sunday market.  We found a different vendor that was making fresh dumplings – yummy still!!  And we got grilled corn on the cob.  We bought a few more last minute things: happy pants (stretch loose cotton pants that are great for hot weather), scarf for mom, more hanging lights for the girls…  Definitely my favorite day market and in a great area for exploring.

By the time we finished looking at everything we wanted to, we decided to have late lunch early dinner at the Black Canyon Cafe.  We each splurged on delicious coffee drinks… this is my black hazelnut frappe.



We returned back to the hotel for one last swim at the pool.  Then showered and packed our suitcases.  This is always one of the saddest parts but we are ready to get back to our families….  Good bye Lotus Pang Suan Keow.  See you again soon!! [  Now for the 24 hour trip back home… 🙂 ]


From the lobby looking up



Open lounge area on ground floor



Open lounge area on ground floor


1.24.15 Saturday

Today is another day of exploring and shopping!  But first I want to capture what the hotel looks like from outside our room.  The center is like a humongous atrium that’s light and open.  Our view of inside the hotel from our 12th floor location – we are room 21221.


We go back down our favorite street (maybe one day I will actually write it down) which is just walking distance from our hotel.  We find a very nice boutique-y plaza next to the Factory Outlet that sells the Celadon.  There are about 15 little shops that sell clothes, jewelry, shoes, hats – a goldmine for fashionable chicks like us.  Since the Factory Outlet is still closed, we decide to take a red bus to Saturday market.  We get there at about 1 p.m. not realizing that the Saturday market is an evening market that does not really start until 4 p.m.  We decide we do not want to hang around that long — the pollution (car exhaust) is exceptionally bad.  Instead we discover that one of the street that Saturday market is next to is full  of shop after shop of silver jewelry.  Imagine a street with one candy store after another (if you like candy), that is what it is like when we are looking at the jewelry.  Of course we buy  a couple of pieces. 🙂

We decide we will head back to the hotel, go for a swim.  This is our gorgeous swimming pool on the 7th floor!





After a relaxing hour at the pool, we shower and have dinner at Tops Market, you guessed it, pad Thai.  I have to lay off the Thai curry, the hot spice is starting to get to me…  We then go back to the street that sells the Celadon and pick up a couple more pieces that have the elephants decorated in the pottery.  We stop at the boutique plaza next door and drink some water.  Hi Sabine!! 🙂



On the way back to our hotel we see this tree all lit up.  Looks better in person, but at least I’ll never forget it, even with this blurry picture.





When we get back to the hotel, we eat cookies in bed and watch the one American channel that airs some decent TV shows.  Life is good.

1.23.15 Friday

We decided to sleep in this morning.  It feels so good to sleep in a warm bed, and in a room where we actually have to turn on the air conditioning instead of adding a fourth layer of clothing (as I did at ENP).  Eventually we stroll down to the 1st floor for our complimentary buffet breakfast.  There is a huge assortment of food but Sabine and I stick to the usual Thai salad bar.  However, when I see these mini croissants, I have to get some mostly because they remind of 2 of the dogs, Son Luk and Thai Pei,  that we would hug daily at ENP and it makes me smile.


the shapes here remind me of the back-leg paralyzed puppiesh playmates of Steel, Son Luk and Thai Pei, when we would visit them all in their tiled enclosure. They always sat like this it would look SO cute!!! ♡

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One of Steel’s playmates. Note the resemblance of the croissants to Gimpy2’s  (Son Luk) legs. He is paralyzed in the back legs with muscular issues. Totally adorable. ♡

After breakfast we decide to explore our favorite street which we discovered the last time we were here 2 years ago, to do a little shopping.  This is ALWAYS fun.  We find a factory outlet shop (Thai style) that sells Celadon (famous in Thailand) and we buy some beautiful bowls with elephants on it.  We are thrilled at this find.  We find a few other shops where we buy a few gifts and, of course, some stuff for ourselves.

We eat lunch at Tops market in the Central Mall (connected to our hotel) and order one of our favorite meals,  Thai curry chicken.


Instant colonoscopy prep.

The we go to TaiPeth Gate, which is where the Sunday (afternoon) market is.  we had found 2 or 3 very nice boutiques that sell pure silver jewelry as well as scarves.  We buy more goodies and have a great time spending the afternoon outdoors.

When we return back to the hotel abd because it is 93º F, we decided to go swimming in the HUGE (Olympic sized but nicer shape) swimming pool on the 7th floor – outdoors.  How lovely!  We swim for an hour, shower and go for pad Thai at Top Market.  We go back to the Night Bazaar again and make sure to get to Lanna Silver.  I buy the elephant pave bracelet.   I will always love this store because of the large selection of gorgeous, uniquely designed silver jewelry pieces.  And they always take you up on the saying, “Can you please give me any discount?” 🙂

By the way, I will get pictures of the swimming pool tomorrow.  I love it here!!!

1.22.15 Thursday – Hello Lotus Pang Suan Keow

It is 4 p.m. and we are checking into this hotel.  Oh my!!  Not only does this feel like heaven because we are in a real hotel (warm showers to be had, soft beds, no ‘skeeters), but this might be one of the nicest hotels I have ever been in!  This is our room:


Looking in from 1/2 way into the room — little sitting area.



View from sitting area



Standing on bed… looking at front door (bathroom on right)



Bathtub.. with hot water!!!!



Toilet… with ability to flush toilet paper!!! Most places in Thailand, you are requested to throw all (used) toilet paper in the trash. ew. Shower… with hot water!!



Nice sink area…. with hot water!!!



Complimentary bathrobes 🙂


We took hot showers — sooooo nice — and the headed to Central Mall complex.  On our way out of the Mall area, local vendors had set up the stands with foods and wears.  I found my favorite little vendor that sells all sorts of silver jewelry —  lots of charms and earrings and bracelets.  I got several charms, some as gifts and some for myself.  I am posting this next picture so I remember how to lace this charm through the chain.  It’s very pretty!!! 🙂


From there we decided to go check out the Warrurot market (Chinese market) on the recommendation of our friend Patricia (from Argentina).  Very disappointed with this market.  It was basically commercial cheap goods (shirts, luggage, etc) and the area was very dirty… maybe we just went at a bad time??  But I think we’ll avoid this market in future visits back to Thailand.

We went back to our favorite night market, the Kilare Night Bazaar.  In the red bus that we took there we saw this in the back where we were sitting; it felt like a good omen to be reminded of ENP even though we had just left the park!!




Hello, Night Bazaar!!


While strolling through the Bazaar, we accidentally discovered a a real jewelry store in the heart of the Bazaar called, Lanna Silver.  We both bought a couple of very beautiful pieces of jewelry (can you ever have too much?)  Git a gigantic ice-cream at the Haagen Dazs ice cream shop.  Strolled through several more shops but by 8:30 p.m. we were exhausted and decided to go back to our (lovely) hotel.  By the way, our hotel has HOT WATER!!!

While laying in our beds watching some TV, we heard loud booms, opened the curtains of our 12th floor sitting room area and saw gorgeous fireworks!!  Perfect was to end the night! 🙂










Day 11 at ENP – 1.22.15 Thursday

A few notables…

These trees are all cement that have been textured and painted to look like tree branches. It is very beautiful and pictures do not do it justice! When everything is dry, they scatter planters of flowers throughout the structure. I could stare at these for hours.



This is Bella, our one night slumber party companion and our deck chair resident.  Sweetest.dog.ever.


This water buffalo was making the silliest sound. Jodi is able to repeat it right back to her! 🙂


Today is our last day at the park. I’ll especially miss my two favorite VCs, Jane and Aek (both males). These guys are great! And believe in the cause for the elephants.



Jodi offers to take us on our elephant walk in the morning as she does for all the 2 week volunteers. This is always such a treat.

First we say hello to one of my favorite pairs, Jokia (50 yrs old) and Mae Perm (65 yrs old).  I know I have told Jokia’s story many times but I will tell it again.  Jokia is one of the first 5 elephants that was rescued at ENP when the park first opened in 2003.  She is blind in both eyes by the hand of her mahout (prior to rescue) as a form of punishment for being ‘difficult’.  Jokia had been working in a logging camp and was pregnant at the time.  She gave birth while working but was not permitted to see her baby immediately after.  As a result, her baby died – as a mother, Jokia would have broken the sac and ‘kick the baby to get it to start breathing.  Jokia became very upset and depressed and would not work.  Her mahout speared one eye.  She remained depressed for many more days and still refused to work.  Her mahout slingshot her other eye.  When Lek happened by Jokia, she saw that Jokia was blind and questioned the mahout why she was still working.  The mahout said she was still able to work.  Lek bought her immediately as part of her first set of rescues.  Mae Perm had also been rescued days earlier and Mae Perm immediately befriended Jokia.  Mae Perm has become her ‘eyes’ and they are never far apart.  If Jokai chirps or trumpets for her (though she does not overdo this, she is quite independent), Mae Perm immediately rushes over to her and touches her with her trunk to let her know that she is there.  Although I feel awful for the loss of Jokai’s sight, particularly because of the way it happened, it is a relief to know that of all an elephant’s senses, eyesight is by far the worst.  Their sense of smell and feel for vibrations (they sense this through their feet) are the most finely tuned of their senses and the ones they rely on the most.


Mae Perm (left) Jokia (right)


Mae Perm (left) Jokia (right)

Mae Perm walks right up to me to say hello, she has the reputation of being the friendliest, easiest to approach, kindest of all the elephants. She is awfully sweet… ♡.


Mae Perm


Mae Perm (left) Jokia (in back)


Mae Perm (left) Jokia (in back)

Here is a quick water buffalo crossing. There are a lot more this year with quite a few births… because some of the bulls escaped castration or the castration didn’t take.


Water buffalo, Yindee’s family in the background


Water buffalo, Yindee’s family in the background

Next stop is Yindee’s (1 1/2 years old) family group. Yindee’s mother, Mintra, is 18 years old. She has two dislocated hips from being hit by a car while she worked as street begging. It is amazing to me that she was able to have Yindee let alone walk. I am very happy for her. Yindee has 2 nannies each with a landmine injury on their back legs, but ine has it on the right hind foot and the other one on the left hind foot. Their name are Malai Tong (30 years old) and Porn Suan (20 years old). Porn Suan is the super-I’ll-kick-your-ass-if-you-even-look-at-Yindee-funny nanny… she adores him. Yindee also has 2 grand nannies and they are both blind. Their names are Jam Pang and Jarunee. Yindee spends his time playing and checking in with all his nannies. He does get play time with Dok Mai since they are so close in age and size. I found out that Navaan no longer gets play time with Dok Mai or Yindee because he is older (at 2 yrs and 4 mos) and too big and a bit rough. I feel bad for Navaan as he probably needs a playmate and I wonder if this restriction would occur in the wild. But I am sure the park has given this careful thought.


Porn Suan (left), Yindee’s little bum sticking up from ditch, Mintra (right, you can see the dislocation of her hips)


Porn Suan (left), Yindee’s little bum sticking up from ditch, Mintra (right)


Porn Suan (left), Yindee’s little bum still looking adorable, Mintra (right)


Mintra (left), Yindee (right); mother and son


Mintra (left), Yindee (right); mother and son.


Mintra (left), Yindee (right); mother and son


Mintra (left), Yindee (right); mother and son








Mintra, you can tell that she is a nursing mother













We then move along to the family herd of Faa Mai, Tong Jan, Mae Bua Tong, Dok Mai, Dok Ngern, Faa Sai, Sri Nuan,…

Here is little fatty Faa Mai.


Faa Mai

Dok Mai approaching innocently to say hello…


Dok Mai


Dok Mai


Dok Mai


Dok Mai


Dok Mai

We see Faa Mai with her mom, Mae Bua Tong, and the herd seem content to wander around fairly close together. Mae Bua Tong comes right up to me… I have always thought she is such a good mother.


Mae Bua Tong


Mae Bua Tong

Still a little busty from nursing Faa Mai.


Mae Bua Tong

Faa Mai goes to Mae Bua Tong to try and nurse. Not sure if she is too old for this, but Mae Bua Tong never pushes her away.


Mae Bua Tong and Faa Mai, mother and daughter


Mae Bua Tong and Faa Mai, mother and daughter


Mae Bua Tong and Faa Mai, mother and daughter

Faa Mai then decides to wander off on her own. True to form, just as she did 4 years ago, she is breaking fences ! ♡ 🙂 She seems quite pleased with her work.


Faa Mai (6), Mae Bua Tong (39) and Tong Jan (13). Mae Bua Tong is mother to both ‘babies’.


Faa Mai — breaking fences. Still.


Faa Mai. “My work here is done.”


Faa Mai. “That was fun.”


Faa Mai. “I’m so happy.”

I love the super tall bamboo umbrella structures built to offer some shade to the elephants.


We notice some elephants in the river that are not associated with ENP and Jodi suggests we get closer to have a look so that she can give us some insight.  This group adventure is call “Woody’s Elephants”. Although they do not use trekking contraptions, the elephants are still used for riding on the elephant’s neck. There are no hooks but the guides do use nails to “control” the elephants as I actually do witness at that moment 😦 One of the elephants is still quite small, it seems like she is only 10 or 11. This breaks my heart to see that elephants are still objectified for human entertainment.


Woody’s Elephants – not associated with ENP


Woody’s Elephants – not associated with ENP


Woody’s Elephants – not associated with ENP


Woody’s Elephants – not associated with ENP

We make a quick stop at Jodi’s hut and I admire her beautiful chicken!

Our next stop is Khun Dej and his family.  The happy ending in this trio is that Dani’s daughter (about Saree’s age) and her baby boy (would have been Khun Dej’s age) were both taken away from her prior to ENP.  She was a very sad and lonely elephant.  She now has Saree (female) and Khun Dej (male) that have sort of taken the place of her lost family and she is now thriving again. ♡


Saree (adoptive sister), Khun Dej (3) and Dani (adoptive mother)


Saree (adoptive sister), Khun Dej (3) and Dani (adoptive mother)


Saree (adoptive sister), Khun Dej (3) and Dani (adoptive mother)

Khun Dej is 3 years old and his name means “warrior” or “knight”, which is very well suited to him since he has been through so much. He was discovered by the Thai Prime Minister’s daughter, NuNa, who is greatly supportive of Lek’s work. Khun Dej was originally found in the jungle with a badly healed, serious injury to his front left foot. It is assumed that it got caught in a wire noose snare. The are was being kept in for 2 years lost its funding so Khun Dej ended up at the government hospital. He was chained around his neck because they could not get it around his damaged foot. NuNa brought him to Lek. When his mahout quit, they could not find anyone to take care of him. Khun Dej does not belong to ENP but he will live at ENP forever because of his injury. His new mahouts (they care for his adoptive sister, Saree, and his adoptive mother, Dani) are Thai Karin which are (typically) the best mahouts.


Here, Saree plays with Khun Dej so lovingly.


Khun Dej, Saree and Dani


Khun Dej, Saree and Dani


Khun Dej, Saree and Dani

Khun Dej has sad, thickly lashed, beautiful eyes but he seems happy with his new family.


Khun Dej


Khun Dej you can really see his damaged left foot here


Khun Dej


Khun Dej

I buy a wood carving of Khun Dej from the mahouts.

I cannot remember which one this lovely lady is…  but she eats just the leaves of the corn stalks since she is quite old and it is difficult for her to chew.  It is amazing to see how flexible and adept she is at tearing just the leaves off one by one and collecting a good sized mouthful before she actually puts it in her mouth.



Next we see old Mail Tong eating pumpkin… which is sort of hard for to chew.


Me, Sabine, Jodi and David (Japanese born Chicago-ite — very nice and funny) make her peanut butter, banana and steamed pumpkin sandwiches… which she does not like at all. She either takes the sandwich and tosses it aside, or she moves her trunk away from the hand fed sandwich.  The sandwiches are to help her gain weight. She had a blood parasite and the medicine to treat it wore her out. She has really slowed down, but given her age, 60-65, she is doing relatively well. Still would be nice to fatten her up a bit though.





After lunch, Sabine, Jodi, Dave, Nel (super sweet, intelligent, hardworking vet student from Australia)  and I do the enrichment for all 3 of the bachelor boys. Hope’s caregiver, Chai Ruk, helps out as well although he frequently does enrichment on his own for Hope. He’s a very hardworking and thoughtful guy.

This is the set up for Tong Suk and Chang Yim:




Nel and Chai Ruk




Tong Suk seems to be enjoying it.


Tong Suk aka Jungle Boy


Tong Suk aka Jungle Boy


Tong Suk aka Jungle Boy


Tong Suk aka Jungle Boy

This is Hope’s set up:






He enjoyed knocking everything down and then eating it! 🙂






Sabine and I just finish the enrichment and it is time to leave ENP….

Next stop? warm shower….!  More to come…

Day 10 at ENP – 1.21.15 Wednesday

Good morning!  … this is Lucky. She is completely blind and beautiful. She is combining a very small snack of corn stalks with an exfoliation against the cement pillar. These pillars along with tall tree stumps are scattered throughout the sanctuary so the eles can relieve itches or do 5 – minute spas. 🙂



And this little guy climbed right into my lap this morning at breakfast.  I love his little motor mouth.


Navaan comes up for his early morning hello while his nannies get their warm blankets put on.  I love his little baby trunk on the platform.


Navaan surrounded by his nannies





This morning, instead of doing steamed pumpkin, Jodi has us do elephant enrichment for Jungle Boy and Chang Yim in their HUGE enclosure.  We stuff 2 tires and set up corn stalks and branches into tee-pees.  This is is a lot of fun!  Tong Suk (Jungle Boy – 13 years old) and Chang Yim (6 years old) share this enclosure with Tong Suk teaching Chang Yim about being a bachelor, something that would occur naturally if they were not captive.

This is the morning crew, less Jodi who is up front in the truck with the driver.  And me, photographing the picture 🙂


Patricia (Argentina), Sabine (USofA), Mel (Melbourne Australia)

Tong Suk and Chang Yim watch us carefully as we set up their area… eagerly waiting.


Tong Suk (big tusks) and little Chang Yim


Tong Suk (big tusks) and little Chang Yim



Tong Suk (big tusks) and little Chang Yim


Tong Suk (big tusks) and little Chang Yim

These are the creations we came up with for Tong Suk and Chang Yim: corn stalk tee-pees, stuffed tires.  Jodi told us later during lunch that they found everything we did within minutes and were thoroughly busy eating and playing.  Woohoo!









This is a quick shot of their built in pool.  It’s difficult to capture the sheer size of it but it is quite large and both Tong Suk and Chang Yim can be in it at the same time – probably about two more elephants with them if they wanted…)


On our way back, we get a quick sighting of Yindee with his nannies.  Look at the love and the trunk hugging.





During lunch I see this sweet lady getting a good scratch on a cement pillar.  She has a very badly injured tight leg and moves quite slowly but she seems quite content here… 🙂


At 1 p.m. Sabine, Mel and I are ready to build the enrichment for the family herd enclosure.  Here are some of our efforts in the different shelters.  By the way, all of the shelters box surprise boxes filled with snacks.  Faa Sai’s is the largest box, of course.  We loved getting creative…













While waiting for the family herd to return, we got to visit Steel and her gimpy friends and then the dog shelter.

…And here are the prettiest flowers growing on trees that line the dirt roads through the park…


We return back to the family herd shelter around 4 p.m. and see that Sri Nuan, older 60’s, is already in their shelter.   We have not missed much though.  Sri Nuan delicately pokes around and eats some of the corn stalks and bananas.  A few minutes later she discovers her box.  She opens is so carefully and I am impressed.  She rummages through,very neatly, putting individual treat into her mouth – such a lady.





Next comes Dok Mai, Dok Ngern and nanny.  They are all a little more obvious at the eagerness of tearing into their stuff.  There is some banana stealing. 🙂









Dok Mai getting a banana that rolled out of the shelter

Here is another group returning to a different set of shelters.


Sabine and you can see Yindee in the very front of his family


Next, Faa Mai, Tong Jan and Mae Bua Tong return into their shelter.  Mae Bua Tong’s daughters are like kids on Christmas morning.  After they have attacked their goodies, Faa Mai decides to grab Faa Sai’s box with her trunk.  Very clever!



Faa Mai with Mae Bua Tong and Tong Jan in the background


Faa Mai see’s Faa Sai’s box…



Faa Mai’s trunk on Faa Sai’s box


Faa Mai’s trunk on Faa Sai’s box


Faa Mai’s trunk on Faa Sai’s box


Faa Mai’s trunk on Faa Sai’s box

And Faa Sai has not returned yet.


Faa Sai’s untouched shelter .. aside from her surprise box which was stolen by Faa Mai! 🙂

We wonder why Faa Sai is not back as 20 more minutes go by.  Finally we see her with about 6 mahouts, including Darrick in his tractor, sort of guiding her along.  We assume she is being ‘difficult’ as Lek and Jodi mentioned she can be.  We find out later that Faa Sai wanted to meet and play with the new elephant, Sook Sai.  On her way meandering back to her enclosure, she decided to make her own route home.  She walks down the dirt road of our volunteer housing!!!  She is quite at ease with 3 mahouts and Pom to guide her the long way home back to her shelter.  Faa Sai steals some flowers and tree leaves and her guides just say, “No, no, Faa Sia” and she sort of obeys.  There is no physical reprimand of any kind on Faa Sai…


Faa Sai


Faa Sai


Faa Sai


Faa Sai


Faa Sai looking at me from our garden!


Faa Sai


Faa Sai


Faa Sai

I’ll close with one of the BEST cold salads that I have had with dinner.  I must try to make something like this back home.


Day 9 at ENP – 1.20.15 Tuesday

Because we are 2 week volunteers, our 2nd week is different so that the week does not become repetitive (and we do not get bored).  Jodi mentioned that we get to do pumpkin steaming most of the morning and then elephant enrichment in the afternoon.  Both the VCs, Aek and Jane, are fine with this although I miss their presence!

Unfortunately, Sabine is sick today and will spend most of the morning and early afternoon throwing up and pooping.  I am pretty sure she got what I had — we shared a bottled mojito 2 nights ago.  oops.  Sorry Sabine.

Pumpkin steaming was done with the guidance of the same 2 ladies that had us do the watermelon peeling yesterday.  This is one of the nice ladies:


These are the pots that the pumpkin is steamed in:


These are handled by the ladies, probably so that the volunteers don’t hurt themselves… 🙂  The kitchen ladies steam and empty the pots and we separate them onto the cooling wire racks


and prepare to fill the elephant baskets.


There are seven older elephants that need the soft pumpkin because they have little or none of their 4 (very large) teeth left.  This is Mae Bua Loi, one of the older elephants – 60 years old.  Her name means ‘Floating Lotus’ that is very grateful for the steamed pumpkin.  She is slurping and enjoying it 🙂



Our next task of the day is elephant enrichment.  This involves food (corn stalks, watermelon, watermelon rinds, bananas, timothy hay) and props ( card board boxes with no tape or staples; thick 4 inch wide, 4 ft long recently cut tree log branches, tires).  Jodi assigned us the family shelter which contains four enclosures:


Faa Sai’s enclosure is to be the most done up since she is the most ‘difficult’.  She is 1 years old and likes to do her own thing.  The mahout(s) have difficulty bringing her in often.  So if she has something to look forward to in her enclosure, she may be more excited to get to it.  Aside from bribery it is also great mental and physical stimulation for all the elephants that have shelters that are enrichment-supported.  We stuff tires (old ONLY rubber) with watermelon rinds and bananas and seal it in with timothy and even corn stalks if we run out of hay; we string bananas and watermelon halves with softened bamboo strips which soaked in water; and I even managed to string up one of our big logs with bamboo.  This is Faa Sai’s enclosure before:


Under construction:


Mel (mother) and Will (son)








tire and corn stalks


And after:






The other three enclosures had much smaller variations of Faa Sai’s setup.  This was lots of fun and gave us a chance to get a bit creative.  We used the full 2 hours to set up the enclosures.

I thought I had pictures of the family herd tearing down their shelters but they must be on my camera still which I used when my phone was recharging.  Needless to say, the eles had a great time.  At 4 p.m. Jodi gave us permission to stand across the way of the shelters, yet still be close enough to the enclosures to watch the reaction of the elephants.

The first elephant to get to her enclosure was Sri Nuan who seem pleasantly surprised finding goodies in her enclosure.  Then all the other elephants seemed to return at once.  Faa Sai got into her areas and who barreled in right after her? Faa Mai (6 years old).  She was pulling the cornstalk/branch that placed on the top of the cement enclosure.  Tong Jan (13) followed her sister Faa Mai right after her and there was excited chaos.  The mahouts had to shoo Tong Jan and Faa Mai out of Faa Sai’s enclosure.  Faa Sai enjoyed her tires.  Mae Bua Tong and her daughters, Tong Jan and Faa Mai, loved their tire too.  dok Mai loved her little treats and Dok Ngern (momma to Dok Mai) loved peeling the bark from the logs we brought in and eating it.  Bananas were stolen, corn stalks were shared and entertainment and fun was provided.  SUCCESS!!

We did not have time to go to the dog park or see Steel today 😦

After a delicious dinner, we watched a documentary that I have seen before called, “Vanishing Giants’.  It was just as moving as the last time I saw it.  And, of course, I cried.

When we went to bed, Bella, who we secretly call Tea Drinker because 2 years ago I caught her drinking my tea, was asleep on our deck (our room is on the top 2nd floor).  She loves the wicker chair.  Sabine and I went to brush our teeth in the bathrooms.  When we were walking up the stairs back to our room, I noticed that our door was half way open as though someone had been in there.  When we locked the door and were climbing into bed, we saw this in between our 2 beds:


We sooooort of tried to coax her out, but not that seriously because we really did not mind if she stayed.  She looked at us and then curled back into a tighter ball.  We shut off the light and went to sleep. 🙂

Day 8 at ENP – 1.19.15 Monday — Our Furry Friends

So we have made lots of non ele furry friends, mostly dogs and a smattering of cats. Here are some of them:

From the tiled enclosure for the dogs that are paralyzed:

Steel: One of may favorites. She was hit by a car and her prior owners tried to take care of her. They were unable to and brought her to ENP where a special, large, smooth, tiled enclosure was made for her. She appears relatively mobile while in the enclosure but does have her pink wheelchair for those occasional walks outside of her enclosure. She is a very happy and loving dog, and LOVES to have her neck scratched since she is no longer able to do it. She can gaze into your eyes for hours and will fall asleep in your lap if you stay long enough. She appears to be the alpha in the enclosure as well. I LOVE Steel.


Gimpy 1 (Thai Pei): Still a bit of a puppy, paralyzed with muscular issues.  Very sloppy water drinker and by the end of our visits gets playfully nippy.  He is quite cute:


Gimpy 2 (Son Luk): Also still a bit of a puppy, paralyzed with muscular issues.  He has very soft fur and like to lay on my legs on his back, preferably with his face looking up at mine  He is quite cute and if I was equipped with the time and attention he deserves, I would have loved to adopt this guy,  I fell in love with him:


Look at how his feet cross over each other. Their feet always look so cute.

From the Dog Run:

Ice: Albino dog with the clearest blue eyes.  Ice was a nickname that Darrick gave him but he could not recall his Thai name at the time, (finally remembered, Yung).  He was so shy the first 2 days, he kept his distance  By the third day, after 20 minute or so when the excitement had settle down, he walked over to Sabine and I and sat in between us.  He leaned into Sabine for some petting and cuddling and then me for a bit.  He wagged his tail a lot and loved to have human touch.  Sabine became quite smitten with him:


Foxy: Named by me because she has the face of a fox.  She is shy and often picked on by the other dogs.  Often she has her tail in between her legs.  But when I go to see her specifically, away from the other dogs, her tail wags, her eyes squint and she gazes right into you.


Licker:  Named by us, this girl was always very jumpy and excited to see us.  She would constantly try to lick Sabine’s face and she would climb up on her back when we would sit by their pool.  Very playful and not at all shy.



Unknown: This buy had a German Shepard look to him.  Also not at all shy and extremely playful.


Unknown: She was also a bit of a shy one but gradually became one of those who like to lean heavily into you for hugs.



Unknown: Very friendly loved having his bum scratched.


Unknown: Very friendly loved having her bum scratched.


Unknown: Very friendly loved snuggling and being pet.


Unknown: Very friendly loved having his bum scratched.


Unknown: Very friendly and constantly seemed to be looking for his marble.


Dogs that were part of the ENP grounds:

Desmond:  Who I nicknamed fuzzy bear.  Like resting and sleeping on the tables.  Always stared at my food while I was eating.  ‘…are you gong to finish that…?’


Lucky:  Adorable little terrier looking dog that adores Lek.  Has the cutest face!  (and beard).


Ling: She reminded us of Sabine’s Ling.  Loved egg yolks and scratches. 🙂


Snoozer:  Named by us, he had his favorite chair at the platform.  Very easy going, sleepy and content guy.


Some other lovely sightings..



Day 8 at ENP – 1.19.15 Monday

Had an enjoyable breakfast and a little play time with Lucky.



Today the next set of week volunteers will be arriving by 11 a.m.  Sabine and I will find things to occupy our ‘free’ time for today.

Here are the usual lovely morning ladies that have come by for some bananas and have their blankets put on them.  I love having breakfast with them every morning.



Coincidentally, their is another Ling (like Sabine’s Ling) who resembles her Ling.  ENP Ling ate out egg yolks this morning and her tail is constantly wagging.


An Australian volunteer ( I think he is referred to as Pedro on Facebook) for the dog park said that we could bring Ling home.  Sabine reminds him that this is a dilemma because we have so many dogs in the U.S. that need to be adopted as well (and just as she has adopted her Ling from Alabama).  We got into a friendly discussion of the ease or difficulty of bringing a Thai dog back home.  Canada and the U.S. have no restrictions, we have the easiest aside from proof of vaccinations.  The U.K. has no quarantine period (nor do many of the European counties) but the costs are a bit expensive.  Australia/New Zealand are the most difficult with a 6 month quarantine period and heavy fees; option 2 which is preferred but more expensive, the animal is sent to the United States where no quarantine is required and then sent to Australia/New Zealand.  Apparently the reason Australia/New Zealand adoptions are much difficult because they do not have rabies.

Since we are by ourselves until the next set of volunteers arive, we have for three hours in the elephant kitchen.  We have no common language except hello, ‘swa dee ka’ and thank you, ‘khab kun ka’, but somehow we are all able to communicate just fine with gestures and smiles.  🙂  We spent most of the time peeling the rinds from the watermelon since the older elephants have difficulty chewing through the rinds. We also washed a lot of pumpkins.





The lady who was giving us the work had us a take a break at one point and gave us half a steamed corn on the cob each – delicious!

At 1 p.m. Jodi gave her talk on the sky-walk gazebo area to all the new volunteers.  Some interesting highlights aside from her comical yet very informative talk:

  • Elephants are pheromone oriented.  They get most of their information through smell.  Their eyesight is the worst of all their sense even though I think their eyes are one of their most beautiful physical features.
  • They have 8 major muscles on each side of their trunk
  • Broken down, elephant’s trunk contains over 40,000 muscles, divided into as many as 150,000 individual units
  • Elephants have very good aim – they can throw rocks (example, at a human) with excellent accuracy.

After Jodi’s talk, Sabine and I went to visit Steel and her friends and then to the dog park.  I remembered to take my phone (which has been taking better pictures than my stand alone camera!)so that I could take pictures of all the dogs I will dedicate my next blog to.

One note on a touching observation.  This is the 8th time we have gone to the visit the dog park (run).  There are over 500 dogs here split in various enclosures.  Unfortunately, there is no way to visit all the dogs.  We are only able to get to one enclosure and it is the same one every time.  The first day there was a full on greeting — about 30 dogs.  They were timid but very happy to see us and little by little they would approach.  By day 8 there is still the full on greeting with the playful high pitched barks.  There is pushiness; licks; dogs on hind legs with paws on our waists; possessive growling to other dogs that is short-lived with the human’s ‘ah-ah’.  They crowd in for loves.  They become extra playful and show off a bit for you.  They lean into you and climb your back when you are sitting down. And I will miss them.

Quick elephant moment: This lovely lady has a broken right hip which often occurs from forced breeding. She stopped to scratch an itch while working her way to the river. ♡


Day ended with Lek doing a little cat whisperering… 🙂




Nothing like a nice (cold – you get used to it:) …) shower after a busy day at the park. Felt good to do so much. 🙂

Day 7 at ENP – 1.18.15 Sunday

Good morning!!

Sook Sai is having a little difficulty settling in. She took the roof down in the vet shelter. It is assumed that she is lonely and bit scared as she needs to quarantined for a few days to make sure she is not sick and cannot be integrated with the other elephants. She is not used to being kept safe.


Sook Sai is in the back in the Vet Shelter

The there is this beautiful lady (in front of Sook Sai) out for her morning stroll.


This. Looking at me every morning when I eat my breakfast. Hard to resist this face. His name is Desmond but I have secretly renamed him “Fuzzy Bear”.


Desmond aka Fuzzy Face

Morning chore is cleaning poop again from the elephant shelter. Actually there are too many people for poop duty (wow!) so Sabine and I did elephant kitchen instead. We washed pumpkin and watermelon — which is the size of cantaloupes.

p.s. Only Australians can wear short shorts. Sorry, no pictures to show or it would have looked “cougar”-like.

After we finished, Pom mentioned that Lek was out with the family group herd doing photos with individual volunteers. This is the first time ever that we have done this and it seemed unusual. I had a great photo with Lek! 🙂


Lek, Faa Mai above her, me. Not sure of the cutie on the left…

Faa Mai was the most possessive of Lek – in a friendly way – because she ADORES Lek. Faa Mai was born at the sanctuary and was co-mothered by Lek and Mae Bua Tong (birth mother – very attentive and loving). Faa Mai has missed Lek. She plays with her as gently as possible.








Little Dok Mai comes in for some Lek-love. Faa Mail gets a little jealous but tolerates it since she is nanny to Dok Mai. Tong Jan, older sister to Faa Mai also wants love as do Dok Ngern (Dok Mai’s mother) and the other members of the family herd.


Dok Mai and Faa Mai

Every where Lek walks to, the elephants follow her. It is beautiful and amazing to see.

Dok Mai having a moment with her tire..








At 11:00 a.m. Lek gives a short talk in the conference room to tell us a bit about Sook Sai, the elephant that she rescued last night. It was a 24 hour drive from Surin, through the mountains where sometimes it was VERY cold and sometimes very hot… sort of like the park… Darrick, her husband, helped make sure that Sook Sai stayed warm, had water to drink and stayed calm. Sook Sai’s breaking of the vet shelter roof made her laugh and they will fix it but make the roof much higher.



She told us that the reason she was doing the photos in the field with us (and the family group herd) was NOT for us, we just benefit from it. It was to show the Thai government officials that hooks (huge, barbaric and sick-looking) and slingshots are not necessary in order to be around elephants. You DO need to be careful but beating them and breaking them into submission is not the key.

I cried when Lek said that for their old and injured elephants, this is their last home. And they will live free, with love, not pain, fear and sadness.

Her one thing she asked of us is to spread the word. Give back to ALL the animals, the respect they deserve. With our voice and the ability to connect, speak for the animals whose lives are just as important as any human life.

I LOVE everything about Lek. She mentioned that it is possible that a 2 month old ele-baby (orphaned female) may be coming to the park and that Sabine and I can meet her. She said Faa Mai will be jealous but hopefully can be a nanny to the new baby. Faa Mai is 6 years old, by the way.

After the usual delicious lunch, we said our goodbyes to the week long volunteers. It was so hard and teary. I will miss especially Helen (Aussie), Jean (Aussie) and Catherine (English); they were great companions.

Another p.s. Discovered Tim-tams, the chocolate covered chocolate creme sandwich cookie. Love them and need to bring some home for the family. Also, seaweed flavored potato chips are surprisingly delicious.


After our goodbyes: GOOD BYE!!!

…we went to Steel’s enclosure. We played with Steel and her other leg challenged friends. I thought their names were on the sign on the door of their enclosure, but I could not find it. So I have name them Gimpy 1 (Thai Pei, white short hair with brown almost beagle-ish spots)


and Gimpy 2 (Son Luk, white and brown slightly fluffier terrier-ish look). I love them all to death!


Steel was her usual love-bug self. Steel’s wheels:


The other 2 boys were goofy and cute and Gimpy 2 was trying to hump Gimpy 1 — even though his legs just dragged. Very hilarious. When the 2 boys started to get nippy, we decided to leave. I think Steel looked apologetic for the boys’ behavior…


We headed over to the dog sanctuary. These guys (in only 1 of the 10 enclosures we make it to) are always so glad to see us. Look for more of their pictures in an upcoming post, “Our Furry Friends”. 🙂

Good night for now!  Fuzzy Bear says goodnight too… 🙂