Posts tagged ‘elephants’

Two weeks

I’ll tell you about the trek. I have a slight asthma. Not enough to require an inhaler or cause problems in every day life, but enough to force me to stray and pant behind everyone else when we’re walking uphill. So during the 3 hour trek uphill to our base camp in a Burmese refugee village i cursed myself for choosing to go on this trek. I stopped more than everyone else. The difference between this trek and the one i went on in India is that in India we were all friends when we started the trek. So everyone looked out for each other (me) and waited (for me). So i also cursed fate for being on a trek with strangers.

Finally we arrived at the village which was.. interesting to say it simply. The Lahu people, we were told, are refugees from Burma, who live simply and poorly with traditions and (outdated) customs. Our visits provide them with good enough revenue to make us a worthwhile nuicanse/threat to traditions. I wonder if without this exchange, they would have as much tolerance for our customs (our drinking, exposing clothes on females, behaviors between the genders).

There were 10 people in our group. Six were traveling solo, 2 were twins from Ireland, and 2 were a couple. Genderwise, we were 7 guys and 3 girls.


 this is one of the bridge’s we had to cross


we passed by a herd of cows and none of them resisted being touched



 The elephant part of the trek was so depressing for me that i couldn’t take photos. I didn’t want to remember it through photos. That would mean that the experience was woth savoring. But i will try not to forget. It was abuse. I admit i am already biased because i am sympathetic towards animal “rights” (hence my commitment to vegetarianism) so my sadness at the condition of the elephants isn’t a surprise. I feel that intelligent mammals like elephants should not be condemned to a life of servitude if a human society can do without it. The only purpose the elephants i saw had was to ride tourists though an artificial “jungle” filled with poop no one cleans for half an hour several times a day (if tourists come).

 As this big beautiful animal strides with us on his back, its human captore hits him with a hammer looking object to return his attention to the task if the elephant gazes down or ask for more bananas. I hate to see families ruined. Elephants are social animals and they don’t fare well without family structure. This concept of family is something i feel strongly about. Human families, elephant families, and packs of other animal families should be respected. I know this is not utopia… i just wish….

Yesterday i saw another sad sight. Down the street in Chiang Mai a man was walking a young male elephant by his ear. He was pulling so hard that the elephant cried out several times as they walked. I snapped this photo of them. I’m not sure if the elephant is crying tears, but judging by the wetness around his eye he may be.

 Some people will say So what? There are humans in — who also suffer and are raped and beaten, why worry about this elephant? I hate this kind of logic. One situation doesn’t invalidate the other. However, the elephant is before my eyes and i am witness to his pain*, if i am to see a human being in pain it would affect me strongly too.

*although, you may argue that i’m humanizing the elephant by calling his condition painful. I am, so what?



Today also marks two weeks of my visit to Thailand. I’m off now because writing this post has depressed me, inserting pictures into posts on slow functioning computers is another problem altogether, i’m hungry and thirsty and it’s raining, i’m sitting in this internet cafe uploading photos and wanting the rain to stop so that i can leave without getting wet.


September 4, 2008 at 10:50 pm 2 comments

Chiang Mai

I like Chiang Mai a lot. Compared to Bangkok it has a calmer vibe and a better climate. It’s hot during the day but cool at night which is a change i couldn’t look forward to in Bangkok. I’ve been here 3 days staying with my CS host Chris, who introduced me to this delicious Thai vegetarian restaurant Khun Churn that has a buffet every day during lunch time. They have so much tasty food that i’ve been there 3 times in a row and i still look forward to going and going. It is extremely cheap too, even by Chiang Mai standards. 80 baht per person (about $2.80). Tomorrow i’m going on a 3 day trek… so don’t expect to hear from me until Sep 3! I’m going to be riding elephants, rafting, hiking…

 I have some issue with the way elephants are treated in Thailand. The owner of the guest house that is arranging my trek suggested that since working elephants are no longer needed, the Thai use them for tourism because without that income they wouldn’t be able to afford their expensive upkeep. This does and doesn’t make sense. If elephants are no longer needed, stop letting them breed. Castrate them. Let them die out humanely

 I’ve been ignoring these elephant ride ads until today.. i suppose i really want to see for myself what it is like.. I hope i am not assisting in more cruelty than there already is. Maybe my fee will help the elephants by relaxing the mahout…because if he doesn’t have to worry about poverty maybe he’ll treat the elephants better? Maybe.

August 30, 2008 at 7:11 pm 2 comments

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