Wednesday, April 22, 2009

To Embrace Chiang Mai.

"Lanna meaning one million. Thailand is the land of many many paddy fields. Especially Chiang Mai, we call it the land of one million paddy field."

"Oh, yes. My name is Nop. I hope you aaaa understand my English. Many white people say I speak very good broken English."

We giggled. It was my first visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand; was my first time leaving my little bundle who is now already 16 months old at home for three days. Of course, I went with half my heart behind.

My baby's two weeks unwashed pillow accompanied me. Yeah, so drama.

"Thailand is the land of a million paddy field and black magic. You don't go and simply accept a girl's offer to drink. Next thing you know, you are naked and you don't know where you are!" Nop smiled.

"Yeaahooooo, bagoosss!" ... that's one of our sexcited business partners.

He has gentle gestures, but I guess most Siamese men behave quite the same. The way his eyes moved from one of us tourist to another to check on our approval, tells me, he doesn't just want to guide us. He truly wants us to embrace Chiang Mai.

"Yes, it is the other way round here. Most of the women also got moustache, muscles and take part in Thai boxing."

..... it's only been 15 minutes since I set my foot away from my baby, but I was already intrigued.


I just realised how long it's been since I last bumped into an educator, or a passionate story teller.

...or more like, how long ago since I found myself curling around somebody's leg till he finish telling me something that feeds my soul. The only consolation is if I stumble upon a good blog or articles in weekend newspapers.


On the second day, we were set to go for our first touristy do, we were on the coach for 45 minutes to get to this Elephant camp called Maetamann. It's not like the one I've visited in Krabi where each elephant is just required to go through a fixed trail through-mostly, rubber estate or pineapple farm.

"In the past, Thailand employed our wealth of elephants to help us with logging. But when logging spoilt the structure of land fertility for our agriculture economy and on top of that, there were also illegal loggers by people from outside our country, the King had put a stop to such activity."

"What happened was, our elephants became unemployed."

"The idea of putting elephants as part of tourist itinearary was thought of by Thailand's 3rd princess. Not the two pretty, fashionable one, but the plain simple one."

"Elephants still need to eat and play. Logger elephants are used to being trained, told what to do and befriend human beings. The princess came out with a very structured plan to ensure Thai people receive fair chance to have jobs looking after elephants and look after happiness of tourists."
"Each elephant caretaker must have a licence and all elephants have ID. They must follow standards and guidelines to look after elephants."

There are only two types of elephants in this world; Asian and African.Many people regard the bigger sized ones as a differentiator between the two. Some says, the elephant which ears is in the shape of the African continent marks the difference.

Actually, it is the shape of the head. Asian elephants have two lumps on its head, African elephants have normal rounded top skull." Nop added.

I assume we were heading into a huge area with multiple elephant camps and we saw one with really rounded and tight belly.

"And yes, Asian elephants are smarter as its brains are bigger. It is the Asian elephants which are used to be trained for animal shows in zoos and circus.

Female elephants which are about to go through labour will employ the help of her best friend. It is difficult for them to find comfort during labour due to their size, it is not easy to rest and push.

As soon as the baby elephant comes out, the female 'friend' will then tear the birth bag, lick the calf clean and keep it away from its mom till her she gets enough rest. This is to ensure the calf is safe. Usually, when elephants are still in pain after giving birth will kick their calf aggressively when it is trying to look for its mom's teats. "

By this time, the rest of the people in our tour bus are asleep.

"Nop! In our country, I think we probably have only three elephant sanctuaries, one in Kuala Gandah, Pahang, one in Trengganu and one more in Sabah. But what really happen to our elephants as what I pick up from daily newspapers is, either they get hit by the timber or LNG lorries while crossing the highway, or they die slowly due to leg fracture if they fall into the big drain alongside our East Coast highway."

"The people of your country ought to get world recognition on all this effort, and that ugly princess of Thai should receive a nobel prize for this." I said.

..... until today, I could not help to think of how unfortunate M'sia is, we have so many Kings and so many types of endangered animals - both without much hope.

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