Chiangmai Elephant Rescue Center – Celebrating my Wedding Anniversary

I had a wonderful dream this morning.  Mike died almost a year ago but he was in my dream and gave me a wonderful message.  I know I am grieving and a widow but I felt happy to wake up today.  I had such a good marriage with him and I have had more than a few dream visits with him so I knew today would be great.  Also I was going to play with elephants!

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We boarded a small van to the Ran-Tong Elephant Save and Rescue Centre. It was located about one hour from the hotel outside Chiangmai Mai.

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Upon arrival, we met Lova, our volunteer guide from Sweden.  She had come for a one week volunteer program and was now running the program in exchange for room and board.

Runaway widow ready to bathe elephants

She gave us pants and a shirt to wear so we changed in bamboo floor shower rooms.  We wore swim suits under the clothes because she explained we would be getting muddy and wet.  We also received a shoulder bag that we were to fill up with sugar cane, “elephant candy”.  We walked in flip flops down a path to where the elephants stay.

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The mahouts are the men who are assigned one elephant each. At this center there were 2 moms with young babies. One mahout works with both mom and baby so they are not separated.  Elephants reach puberty at 10 years old and can live to be 60.  The mahouts live in small shacks next to the elephants area.

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We were discouraged to see that the elephants were tied up to poles on ropes.  However, there is a difference between domestic and wild elephants here.  Wild elephants are very rare in Thailand and can be dangerous. These were rescued and already domesticated. Also the babies live with their moms.  If allowed to walk freely they could trample farmers crops and be shot.  The elephants would want to be by people since they associate people with food and not all people would be nice to them (ivory trade) so it’s better to keep them safe with people who care for them and take them out for walks and daily stimulation with tourists like us.

Traveling widow cutting sugar cane fir elephants

So after we were introduced and told their rescue stories, we got to work chopping sugar cane.

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This was so that the elephants would follow us on the walk and they did.  So we fed them.

 Traveling widow playing in the mud with elephants in Thailand

I even got a kiss.

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Then we walked to the mud puddle.  Not everyone went in but I did.  The middle of the pond was really mushy.  It was our job to get that mud and rub it on the elephant’s skin.  They get mosquito bites and sun burn so the mud is good for them.  They even roll around in it.

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 Mother and baby elephants

We had a mom and her 11 month old baby named Ran Tong and a 2 year old named Lynchee with our group of 8 people. After playing in the mud, we walked over to the water and rinsed all the mud off the elephants with clean water. Little Ran Tong had a difficult time climbing up the bank of the mud puddle. It was like watching the Little Engine That Could.  I think I can, I think I can…and he did!

 Bathing elephants in Chiangmai

It was so joyful to be in the water with these beautiful creatures – I couldn’t stop smiling.

We took a group photo and then had showers and lunch back where we started.

 Chiangmai Elephant Rescue Center

It is quite expensive to rescue elephants.  The mother and baby cost $116,000.  There are some good elephant rescue centers here in Thailand and some not so good ones so do your research before you visit.  The website for the place I visited is www.elephant-training.com.


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Comments

21 comments on “Chiangmai Elephant Rescue Center – Celebrating my Wedding Anniversary”
  1. Dawn Zaffery says:

    I am just loving your blog. So far I have tears of sadness and joy. Today’s post was heartwarming. I am glad you had a good day my friend. I look forward until tomorrow’s adventure.

  2. Dianne Guarino says:

    What a great experience you had with the elephants, not to mention this entire trip! (I think Mike told that elephant to kiss you ❤). Can’t wait to read more!

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks Dianne. It is all awesome!

  3. Sounds like an amazing time! I’m glad you got to remember your husband and enjoy traveling and being around the elephants. Lovely sentiment

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Thanks for reading. It was an amazing trip in his memory.

  4. Lenka says:

    Awesome post! Elephants are awesome and beautiful animals. Great tip for a trip. PS: I´m sorry for your loss.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      Elephants are great. I agree and thank you.

  5. I’m also a widow (since 2001) and feel your pain but it looks like you had an amazing time with the elephants. My daughter was in Thailand last month and got to visit the elephant sanctuary too. She loved it.

    1. runawaywidow says:

      It is so good that they are able to have these rescue centers for elephants. Thanks for reading

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