elephant camp is very synonym with thailand's tourism industry. here in chiang mai, there are several camps opened for tourists to experience it. personally, it is an impressive feat. as considering the size of each camp, specifically the number of this mammals being trained and taken care of, is massive. it was like totally a kingdom of elephant there. prem told us the elephant camp business is one of the ways improving the life of the locals here, as all are hiring them to run the place. anyway, i'm not sure whether the function of the camp here is for the tourism purpose only or as the conservation centre like we had in kuala gandah. but looking in general, my personally feeling leaning towards the commercial factor, rather than education and conservation.
#probably, a mr google could tell/clarify better.
we were taken to the Mae Taman Elephant Camp, which located about 40 minutes drive from the airport. prem said there are several camps that located near the city, but Mae Taman is one of the recommended (by him). well...he said the management there treated the animals there better compared to other camps.
we passed a number of camps before arriving the place. it was located in the local village which was within the national park area, if not mistaken. along the road, we could see people enjoying the elephant ride, crossing the river..and few groups were also doing the rafting along the river etc.
Mae Taman, it was equally, if not bigger than our own Kuala Gandah. there were few buses already parked nearby the camp, proof that the place among the favourite's tourist spot. prem led us to the counter, and the lady told us the package cost at 1500 baht per person and it included - elephant show, elephant ride, ox cart ride, bamboo rafting and buffet lunch.
prem : no worry sir. here lunch is halal. (confidently).
but we were a bit sceptical and decided to opt out the lunch..hence reduce our package price to 1300 baht per person. we still had the bread that we bought at LCCT to fill the tummy while waiting for the late lunch later.
|the river next to the camp|
we waited for a while for our first activity of the package i.e. watching the show. we wandered around the souvenir shop and watched the first group of visitors doing their activities - riding the ox cart or the elephant. basically, the camp is opened from morning and has two sessions of the full-package everyday, and we were on the second session.
1st part of the package - the elephant show. we had the chance to be up-close and personal with the elephants - feeding, taking pictures/selfie etc. and after that the staff took few of them down to the river for the elephants to take a bath. well...they even 'told' the elephant to spray the water through their trunk to the guests who were in the mood of enjoying the show.
#semua org lari jauh2 bile nk kena sembur....haru betul.
then the crowd started to fill in the seats to watch the show which included the football match and the painting by the elephants. it was quite entertaining, but somehow, i felt pity to the animals as seeing the hook being used on them, occasionally so that they would obey to the instruction. the fact that prem told us - the camp treated the animal better than other camps, suddenly didn't make sense. just my personal opinion. but the elephants were tame, in general.
|amik lajak nak score gol|
|sesi massage oleh elephant|
|painting by elephant|
|elephant datang nak kutep tips dari guest...budak kecik menjerit2 takut|
the show lasted for almost an hour. and after we done with the show, everybody headed for the buffet lunch, except for us. it'd be another one-hour before our next activity which was bamboo rafting. prem saw us, and then help to talk to the camp so that we could do the bamboo rafting earlier since we were skipping the lunch. while walking towards the river, we were greeted by another taxi driver (based on his uniform, same as prem), in bahasa - macam mana? driver teksi ok ke?.
we stunned for a while, but then nodded and replied 'ok' to him. he was friendly, and then told us that the buffet lunch served was not halal - it was just a no-pork thing. well...we were glad to know that. he advised us to be careful about that.
#yeap..better check..as on our trips on later days..the driver also quoted 'halal' while it was only no-pork thingy, when we checked.
so..we did our bamboo rafting, while others in our group had their lunch. it was only three of us, and two rowers to row the raft, cruising the river.
it was pleasant, to cruise along the river with the raft...and then seeing the scenery along the river, while at the same time encountered few groups from other camps on their elephant ride, passing us etc.
i was given the chance by them to try myself, to row the raft. hehehe...
#amik feeling jer.
|passing other groups on their elephant ride|
prem waited us at the other end of the river as he got to drive us back to the camp for our next activity i.e. the ox cart ride. however, as we arrived at the camp, all ox cart were already taken, and there was half of the group left, and we were asked to ride the elephant first.
so here we go! gosh...it was an awesome experience. i mean..this thing was huge..the one that we rode..was like...hehe...tak terkata...i am exaggerating..:P
it was pretty scary though, as the elephant ride was not on the flat-land etc., but we were taken to cross the river, and then climb the opposite bank and then went to the jungle etc., and then crossed the river again, before finishing our elephant ride at the other part of the village.
|crossing the river again|
|riding the elephant on the road|
the elephant ride ended at one part of the village, where they quoted as the 'long-neck' tribe village etc. , but i didn't see any of them there. it was just station where the guest changed the ride to ox cart from elephant ride, or vice versa, and they had this souvenirs made by the 'long-neck' tribe and the village people for sale there.
we walked to another end of the station and waited for our ox-cart. the driver was a lady. the short ox-cart ride took us back to the camp, and hence ended our trip there. before we left the place, we bought the pictures taken by them when we were riding the elephant as our mementos of the place, since other souvenirs seemed less interesting and/or pricey - like the painting by the elephant (expensive!).
we done with the elephant camp trip, and it was time to go back to the city and check in to the hotel.
overall...the elephant camp trip was awesome...except we didn't have the chance to bath the elephant like in kuala gandah etc. the setback only was when seeing the hook being used occasionally on the animals.
#i don't remember seeing this kind of treatment at kuala gandah.
the ride back to the city took about 40 minutes, and we even had to stop at a road block, on the way. prem had to pay the police officer some money, to avoid any fuss. he told me he forgot to change/bring something like the road-tax or license.
we paid prem 800 baht for the day. he told us to call him back if we were interested to go anywhere on the next day.