I was going to schedule this post for when I return from my holidays in Thailand – but I really have to share the best day ever! Note: This will be a lengthy post but I want to tell you EVERYTHING because it was such an incredible day.
It all started at 8:30 on Sundayy morning (also known as Elephant Day). We got picked up to go to the Elephant Nature Park (visit their website here) by the minibus. It took us around an hour and a half to get from our hotel to the park itself but it was a nice drive with beautiful scenery. We were shown a documentary too, which was about the park and the woman who owns it. So many elephants are used on the streets of Thailand (mainly Bangkok) for begging purposes; their mahout’s (carers) will sell fruit to people to feed to the elephants. This part of the documentary had me in tears. We met some lovely people on the trip which made the day even more fun!
Once we arrived we had a brief talk from our guide Ruby, who explained how to behave around the elephants and the general rules of the park. Then it was feeding time. Each elephant has a massive bucket full of fruit that you can feed them. We fed an elephant who was over 80 years old, so she had to have soft fruit with no peel.
Ruby then took us on a walk around the park. It is in a valley with hills surrounding it and the woman who runs it wanted a place that elephants could roam around in and not be restricted in a smaller area. It’s so beautiful there and we were amazed how close we could get to the elephants. We met many of them, and also a four month and a nine month old! The cutest things ever. One of babies them took a liking to Will but we couldn’t touch the babies due to the protectiveness of the whole herd.
After an amazing lunch we washed the elephants in the river that runs through the park. The elephants just stand there so patiently and you throw water on them to make them sparkly clean. When they’re done they go and roll in the mud - so appreciative of our hard work!
We got to watch from above as the mahout’s bathed and fed the resident naughty elephant who has to do these things alone because he’s not very sociable and quite rebel. At one point he tipped over a basket of fruit and crushed the basket... They also bathed and fed one of the herds with the young elephant so they don’t mix with another herd – apparently they don’t like each other!
We also watched a documentary about how the park was started; a woman called Lek (who is absolutely amazing and I adore her for what she’s done) grew up as part of a hill tribe, so she was around elephants a lot. There was a baby elephant who’s mother had died (cue tears from me) and managed to take the elephant in and help him grow up. It basically goes on from there. They shows how mahout’s train the elephants – but I don’t want to put you through the trauma of it, but know that it’s absolutely mortifying.
Finally, we got to feed the elephants again before saying goodbye to the most amazing day ever.
But it didn’t end there. As we got dropped off at our hotel, Will went to the room to get ours bags and whisked me away on a surprise night away at a hotel and spa down the road. We’ve not stayed in horrible hotels during our trip but they’ve been pretty basic. However this hotel was beautiful. We showered and went to dinner at the restaurant overlooking the river. While the meal itself wasn’t great – everything contained nuts and I hate nuts! – the setting was wonderful. I’d had a feeling earlier in the week something was going to happen while we were in Chiang Mai, but I’d dismissed it, so I spent the whole meal thinking “This is the moment, he’s going to propose”. Nothing. I won’t bore you with the details, but as we walked back through the hotel, we stopped by the little stream that was all lit up, and that’s where I was proposed to! I giggled and cried, and forgot to say yes straight away! It was absolutely lovely and I can’t stop looking at my sparkly ring!
So there ended the best day of my Thailand trip, maybe even my life! I’ll be posting about the holiday next week, but I just wanted to share my exciting news!