"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
March 25th, 2013
Guest Post by Cassie M of Loop Abroad
There’s a collection of things in this world that can give us a feeling of wonder and awe. It differs from person to person, and most times, the moments surprise you. This could be a sight, or a sound maybe, but the key part is that it remains memorable even down the road.
Have you ever stood next to an elephant? It is beyond explainable the thoughts and emotions you feel when being so close to a living, breathing, amazing creature. From their rough skin to their gentle eyes, you can’t help but be awestruck by their beauty. You just know that they carry such a unique story with years and years behind them. Luckily for me, I was able to learn and be told the story of each of the 30 or so elephants that live at The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand along with 16 other students traveling with me. The program I was with, called Loop Abroad, gave us a week living at the park and working with the elephants: collecting food, washing them, feeding them, and just admiring them.
Compared to us, elephants are huge, but not scary. I was not scared when near them, but rather very curious and I think they felt the same way. Almost all of the elephants at the park were rescued from abuse in the logging and entertaining industry. Despite their appearance and their history, they are very gentle creatures. Lek, the owner and founder of the park, wanted to create a place where rescued elephants could have a chance at a new life, with a new family—both human and elephant. Their relations and associations with humans have been able to evolve from fear to love, as you can see when an elephant interacts with a mahout. A mahout is essentially an elephant’s best friend who stays with the elephant all day and helps to create a sense of security for the animal. It’s incredible to see the loyalty and obedience among an elephant and its mahout. The fact that they are able to trust a human again is life-changing.
her broken hip is slowly healing, but not without a limp. She’s been through so much, yet still has the determination not to let her past control her future. She’s been given a chance to just enjoy being an elephant. And trust me, being an elephant looks like a fun time. I watched her through my lens, and I must say, she was definitely one of the best models I’ve photographed.
The craziest thing about my week was that by the end of it, standing next to the elephants was almost second nature. I highly recommend visiting the Elephant Nature Park if you are ever in Northern Thailand because it is a wonderful moment that will leave you speechless.