Children’s elephant day

And now I am blogging about today, for a change!


Chiang Mai puts on the cutest little annual event especially for my birthday, but as it happens, I’m usually out of town. Now I was scrambling to come back in time for National Elephant Day.


It is an amazing spectacle as seventy elephants descend a little hill and tuck into a wonderful feast of watermelons, bananas, sugarcane and pineapples.


They are truly magnificent animals and there is no better time and place to come so close to them. It is especially dear to my heart to see all the families and children getting so excited about it and interacting with the animals.


But of course it takes some effort to forget how much pain and suffering goes into the domestication of these elephants, and no matter how deeply they are revered in this country, they are ruthlessly being butchered in the wild. So, the only truly safe place for them is to get locked up in elephant camps, learn tricks and painting, feed a thriving branch of the tourism industry, and I guess in the meantime become less and less elephants, unable to survive in the wild anymore, locate food, water, migrate safely, and live in their own social structure.


Still, I cannot stop myself from coming back and seeing them (with my friends or family, and school field trips), and taking their photos, and I really wish they don’t even have an idea that they are not meant to be living like this, that they are in a way happy.


How easy it is to take for granted all the choices we have, what to eat and when, where to go, who to love, where to belong. But in a way, we may well be just as badly lost as the elephants – no clue anymore who we are, and why we are here, and why we are upset. Just knowing something is a little off.


(And I just happen to like this photo.)


(And this one, despite the implications and appearances. Shame on me.)


Another cute thing about this day is that hundreds of hilltribe families attend from all the surrounding areas, and it’s a great place to take photos of traditional costumes, and, my personal favourite, traditional handmade baby carriers.


No big conclusions or whatnots for my special day. Just a little stray line of thought. Trying to enjoy being home, the colours, the freedom of moving around, going to places, and having time all to myself.

I know I’m not supposed to do this, but, why would I write about my birthday in July?



2 thoughts on “Children’s elephant day”

  1. The baby carrier is gorgeous! I want one although I have no baby to carry. As for the ambivalence of enjoying the elephants in captivity, I have similar feelings about zoos. I love going and seeing the animals & I know in some cases, their species’ survival depends on zoos now, but I still feel so bad and truly wish they could be free. Upon arriving in Thailand, I was so excited to go to an elephant camp asap, but within my first few hours there, I saw a boy walking a juvenile elephant through the streets of Pattaya seeking money for food to feed the elephant. It saddened me so that I ended up not going to an elephant place until my very last day in Chiang Mai because I wanted to be sure I supported a reputable one that does its best for their residents. You can see my pics on my FB page. Especially loved your close-up shots- so sweet!

  2. thanks Kass 🙂 elephants in the streets are now banned and I think it is being enforced in BKK and Pattaya as well, though not sure. here, definitely yes. and yes there are some reputable elephant places, Elephant Nature Park seems to be the most elephant-friendly (I know you are not here, but just in case someone else needs that info reading this). the owner has received death threats and every possible way to undermine her commitment to saving abused elephants.
    btw, I have dozens of photos of baby carriers, these traditional handmade ones. they would get a fortune on ebay I’m sure 🙂 (hm, business idea?)

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