Almost everyone loves an elephant, more so when you can get up close with them or even spend some time together and discover that regardless of their enormous size, they can be the gentlest creatures on earth. Much has been said about these wonderful pachyderms, enough documentaries have been shown on TVs about their exploits and exploitations and we have seen them numerous times at a zoo from a distance. What if you had an opportunity to really get to know them up close and in person? Not many countries offer this opportunity to do so and one of them is the Kingdom of Thailand.
Visitors who have the opportunity to travel to Thailand on a holiday will be able to experience just such an occasion on their tours and travel packages in Pattaya options. Pattaya is located about an hour and a half from Bangkok City. Though mostly known for its vibrant and somewhat seedy nightlife there are other little gems that are worth venturing forth out to. One such jewel that a visitor to Pattaya should not miss is a trip to the Pattaya Elephant Village.
During the times not too far back in Thailand when the elephant was still a mode of transport and labour in the timberlands, many of these gentle creatures were “drafted” into the logging industry. Together with their mahouts they formed great bonds of kinship that lasts a lifetime. Elephants are noted to be loyal creatures and many a time stories have been heard about the loyalty and bravery of these pachyderms to their mahouts not just in Thailand but from around the world. When the logging industry was banned in Thailand, many of the elephants and their mahouts were out of a job and out of a home which was once their natural habitat in the jungles. As a result of this ban, some mahouts in order to care for their elephants were taking to the streets and asking for handouts in order to feed their elephants and make a living. The elephant being a creature of the wild was often disorientated and many eventually succumbed to malnutrition, confusion and disease. Noticing the plight of these elephants who also hold a strong influence for the Thai people, efforts were made to return them to the wild but as most of these creatures were used to the working environments and among men, they had difficulty adapting and most of their natural habitat has already been destroyed in the name of development. Eventually foundations were setup and conservation efforts made to save these beautiful creatures from further decline.
The Elephant Village in Pattaya was one such conservation effort. Formed in 1973, it soon developed itself into a sanctuary for the elephants in Thailand who were ill, injured and homeless. Working under donations from the public and private organizations, people soon became more aware of the project and before long the sanctuary opened its doors to visitors who wanted to get to know the elephants more intimately. This sanctuary soon became a safe haven that provided shelter, food, health care and a sort of an old age retirement home for the elephants.
One may think that visiting the elephants in a sanctuary in Thailand such as this mean that you will watch the usual elephant tricks and antics but this is not the program of the sanctuary. Spending a day or sometime in the sanctuary is more akin to watching the elephants do their daily routine with the exception of the visitors to the site. Most of these were former working elephants so they do maintain a light routine of managing the surrounding areas for the sanctuary. The sanctuary was conceived by Khun Phairat Chaiyakham who has worked and trained with elephants for 30 years. His love for the elephants and their plight has encouraged him to set up a sanctuary for these gentle mammals without the help from the Government or large private organization but depended solely on the income derived from visitors to the site. He established a non-profit company to care for the elephants.
There are approximately 30 elephants at the sanctuary and visitors are encouraged to interact with them on their visits. A visit to the Pattaya Elephant Village while on your holiday to Pattaya trips should not be missed. You can make arrangements for a tour and sightseeing trip to Pattaya Elephant Village via a tour agency and some of the bookings for the trip should be made in advance such as the bookings for elephant rides in Pattaya Elephant Village. A typical tour of the Pattaya Elephant Village will start with an introduction about the sanctuary and the elephants. Depending on the tour package you have booked for the day there are three options that you can choose from. As each is different in activities so it is best to know which your preferred itinerary is. It is also advised that you check with your travel agents which of the three activities are offered as they have the Combination Elephant Trekking tour in Pattaya Elephant Village, One Hour Elephant Trekking tour in Pattaya Elephant Village and the Elephant Show in Pattaya Elephant Village.
What a visitor can expect during these visits are elephant rides, jungle walks, a visit to the residential Silk House, a canoe ride and a home-made scrumptious buffet lunch. The great event is also the elephant show as the elephants demonstrate their specialties and skills in the logging industry, how to bathe and care for an elephant, elephant feeding (you can get to do this during a five minute banana feeding break ) and you also get to watch how the elephants created history in Thailand in a mock war demonstration while finishing off with an elephant ride. The kids and even grown-ups will be thrilled with this! This show is a must watch event as it is the only one of its kind in Pattaya.
So while you enjoy your time in Pattaya, make it a point to visit these wonderful animals and learn how man and animals can actually co-exist peacefully in a bond that transcends even time. Look into the gentle and knowing eyes of one of these elephants and you will fall in love with them. Yes they may look big and intimidating but they are the gentlest creatures on earth and one worthy of saving.