You've made the first step, you've decided to say no to riding elephants, and yes to visiting or volunteering with elephants in a sanctuary that promote health, freedom, and natural behaviour, now what? What should you know about being a volunteer? If you're visiting for a day, how should you dress or behave? What are the unspoken rules for interacting with elephants in a sanctuary like Elephant Nature Park?
As I sit in a wooden chair on the platform, surrounded by fighting dogs and cats that could care less about what is happening around them, I look towards the grounds of the park as the sky turns into soft oranges, yellows, and pinks; In the distance I hear the deep roar of an elephant, followed by a sharp trumpet from another.
My fingers are sticky and wet, and I can feel juice slowly trickling from the corner of my mouth to my chin; looking around I notice I'm not the only person who decided to eat with my hands, and I feel a sense of relief; I tend to worry about displaying bad manners when eating in a foreign country.
Thailand is cheap. It’s one of the reasons (there are several, which would warrant a separate post) why foreigners flock to this country every year. You can spend very little money in Thailand, and still live a comfortable life. It’s a dream come true, especially in today’s economy.
In the past week, I’ve had a few conversations with travellers about cost of living in Chiang Mai - as my current plan has me living in the city until the end of June. It’s a key part of travel research, and since guidebooks are generally published almost a year after the information is gathered, it can be hard to find up-to-date costs.