18 Jan 2016 Last night was a rough, but hilarious one. The hard rain banging at the tin roof made it almost impossible to sleep, then the weird lizard sounds began. I'm still not sure what it really was but after coming from New Zealand where a spider is the biggest thing that can hurt you, all of the foreign noises made for an insane night. Then the rooster started and there was no more sleep for the rest of the morning.
We got up at about 8 am after hearing Cat's insane laughter at Caitie's inability to open the door into our house, which is just around the back from where the others are staying. Getting grabbed by the Elephant baby Chok Wa Dee on our way. We went and got some breakfast, and drunk Hot chocolate in over 30 degree heat and it was amazing (Thanks Cat).
Cutting down Bamboo is surprisingly fun. May handed us our large Machete and we spent the morning hacking down bamboo to feed Bank and her Baby Chok Wa Dee (Meaning Bamboo). Despite getting incredibly sweaty we were constantly laughing, especially when Cat was jumping on the bamboo in the truck to flatten it down and she fell right off the back into the middle of the bamboo (she's obviously incredibly coordinated)
We spent the afternoon dancing in the rain and the night playing "bang" and "mafia" with amazing food and company. We are constantly laughing here, whether they be at Catie's concerned facials and funny questions about how to bang (shoot), or myself when I asked about how many people could save, which let everybody know that I was the doctor... Oops. Also, thank you Madison for how keen you were to kill me. I really don't think that your hand could have gone up any faster.
When Taylah, Lizzy, Chloe and myself were walking back to our room in the other guest house, we discovered at the door tons of tiny frogs and geckos, obviously I screamed and didn't want to open the door. They ended up getting inside so now I will be sleeping through the night with the fear of Baby Frogs and Geckos attacking me. Thanks Thailand.
Seeing Bank and Chok Wa Dee is so surreal and amazing, but at the same time it can also be a little bit upsetting. Unfortunate elephants in the village do have to be chained up to protect everybody in the village including themselves. I mean you can't just have a 3 ton animal walking the streets which I completely understandable, but it is a challenge to understand why it's actually the best position for the elephants to be in. Although they are chained, they spent their days getting attention from the volunteers and taking frequent walks down to the river to swim and bathe. Compared the other elephants in situations where they are being hunted for their ivory, or forced to perform tricks in a circus, I would say that Bank and Chok Wa Dee have it pretty good.
I think the biggest thing that this trip has taught me so far is that things are not as simple and easy as they seem to understand these situations you need to keep an open mind and understand that your way may not be the best way for the locals in the village. This became incredibly clear to me when we went to the elephant park and learning center in Surin yesterday on our way to the village. Myself and the other volunteers were very shocked to see some elephants were getting ridden. This is due to the harsh 'breaking in' process that elephants are required to go through as they don't naturally allow others to ride on their backs. May who works for the Bamboo project explained to us that under 10 percent of the 300 elephants that they have perform in a show and get ridden. Before they came to the elephant park they had already been broken in and taught tricks, therefore they use the skills that the elephants already have to attract customers and make a profit. 100 percent of the profits go into feeding all of the elephants, and for me, this really brought in a bit of a moral dilemma, because is it right for 30 or less elephants to have to perform and be ridden for the others? And no, it isn't. But, it's the only way that they can do it at the moment, and it's understandable and completely explainable. They wish that they could have no elephants being ridden but unfortunate that isn't realistic due to the lack of funding currently.
The Bamboo Project is doing amazing things in the elephant village and the learning center to help protect the elephants and the amazing, kind hearted families who live her. They also aim to educate future generations. The Bamboo Project and the Youth Ambassador Team are so welcoming. And lovely groups of people who have goals that they will constantly keep striving towards. They challenge my thinking and allow me to ask questions and speak openly about things that don't agree with or understand. They always encourage open discussion which has made me learn so incredibly much, and gain skills and knowledge that I can now take back into my own community and bring into my own life.
So much going to end it here, its 10.20am which means it's 4.20pm in New Zealand and I'm still living in no time so I'm super exhausted, but I can't wait for the rest of the week to carry on this amazing adventure.