Where is Surin?
Surin is one of the northeastern provinces of Thailand, best known for its famous Elephant Round up Festival which is held every year. If there’s one thing that I learned from experiencing a stay at Surin Elephant Sanctuary, it is this. The people of Surin love their elephants.
Looking after elephants! We stayed in the Surin Elephant Sanctuary which is in a very remote village with small communities; very few shops and very limited resources- such as Wi-Fi. The experience forced us to remove ourselves from the ‘connected world’ making us resort to childhood forms of entertainment. Because of this, we got to know each other very quickly, chilling on hammocks outside of the dorms for hours on end and playing music, drinking, drawing or playing card games. It was a real 5 day ‘digital detox’ so to say.
We stayed in a large wooden house which over looked the elephants stables. With large washing lines to hang our wet clothes, and thin mattresses, it was a tad different to sleeping conditions as I know it!
What we did
Our duties for the 5 days included:
- Taking the elephants for walks to the river- my favorite part.
- ‘Poo time’ – Cleaning up elephant poop and taking it to soil landfills to be used
- as nutrients for another harvest.
- Harvesting crops- Cutting down crops and cane sugar and throwing them into trucks to be taken back for the elephants to eat.
Chopping and collecting palm leaves from around the community. This was again for the elephants use as well as for general maintenance purposes.
The food was cooked onsite by one of the workers who was an incredible cook and who taught us a few things in the kitchen.
- Pad Thai Curry
- Vegetable Curry
- Muesli and banana
In our leisure time, we had the chance to chill with each other as the sanctuary, walk around the village, some kayaking and a trip to the local market.
A visit to Elephant Graveyard at Ban Ta Klang
A sad scene, but a reminder of how loved the elephants are.
Amazing. At the time, I possibly didn’t praise it enough, but now I can really appreciate it for what it was. Life away from the disconnected world, the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s touristy places, and in the face of new people. Amazing.