· Journal Entry

Today was ELEPHANT DAY! And it was the best of my life. I am so thrilled that Beach Travellers stopped elephant riding and instead, took us to visit Elephants World, a sanctuary for rescued and retired elephants in Kanchanaburi.

The day was spent preparing food and feeding the elephants, bathing them in the river, and just hanging out and watching them be.

Ever since I can remember I've been absolutely obsessed with elephants, and I had been looking forward to this day ever since I decided to travel to Thailand. And the entire Beach Travellers crew found that out quickly when I started crying after laying eyes on a beautiful mama elephant. Being with them today proved what I already knew: they are gentle giants. They are absolutely ginormous and could squish you wish one step, but they are so careful and loving. What really interested me was how so many of these elephants were abused by humans, yet they are so trusting of their mahouts and all of the volunteers. Elephants have been proven to have human like tendencies and emotions, such as mourning and grieving, but I think the process of regaining trust also proves that they have a deeper level of emotional understanding than we know.

I don't think I stopped smiling the entire day. It was as if I was in a dreamland for those 6 hours. Pure bliss. I was not only extremely pleased with how the day went and how much time we got to spend with the elephants, but with the Elephants World program as well. The volunteers took a lot of time to educate us about elephants and the abuse they go through in order to work in logging and tourism. Most of it was information I already knew (due to my obsession and previous research) but I was so happy that the information was getting passed on to people who might not have known. To know that there are people out there who have the same amount of love for elephants as myself, and who are fighting and advocating for them warms my heart.

There are still hundreds, probably thousands, of elephants that are working illegally, but the number of sanctuaries and rescued elephants increases everyday. Increasing awareness is the best way to educate and combat the abuse of elephants, and it is such a simple way for me to do my part in the fight. Today was a beautiful day that I will never forget. It has brought me so much joy and hope to know that places like this exist. I am even more excited (if that's possible) to volunteer at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. I cannot wait to do my part and give back to these beautiful creatures and the people who care for them.

Caylie Smith

Not Your Average

"Whatever is good for your soul, do that"

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