Back in Chiang Mai from our stay at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, we had a little over twenty-four hours left in this wonderful city before flying out to Hong Kong for a few days on our way back to the States.
Tag Archives: boon lott’s elephant sanctuary (BLES)
They were an anxious lot, and there was nowhere to go but straight into their ranks. Would we be greeted as friend or foe? Welcomed warmly or despised? I took a deep breath and, hoping for the best, opened the truck door and stepped out. That's when the mob surged forward.
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary founder Katherine Connor could best be described as a peaceful protester utilizing non-violent resistance, diplomacy, love, and kindness as her weapons of choice. She sees the good in people even as she describes the horrors of the abuses she has witnessed by humans towards elephants throughout the country.
Our days and nights at BLES were long and relaxed, yet went by much too quickly. It's a lifestyle that is hard not to envy despite all the very hard behind-the-scenes work required to run an elephant sanctuary. Negotiating rescues, acquiring land, providing food and medical care, and the constant fundraising is a tremendous amount of work; yet Katherine has established a peaceful oasis that permeates love and hope throughout.
Whether used in the illegal logging trade or in tourist camps for rides and other "entertainment," unless you're lucky enough to come across elephants in the wild while visiting Asia every elephant you encounter will have been both literally and figuratively broken in a process called phajaan.
I'm just about to climb over the top of the gate and into the elephant barn to join Lek Chailert as she softly sings lullabies to Faa Mai and the other elephants in the barn, when Kim loudly shouts my name in a panicked voice. I look down towards the ground just in time to see my backpack – filled with my camera, lenses, audio recording gear, and travel notebooks – get whisked away into the darkness by an errant elephant trunk.
In just one short week we will finally be on our way to Thailand. This trip is all about elephants, and we'll be spending our time volunteering at two different sanctuaries where captive elephants rescued from lives filled with hard labor and mental and physical abuse have an opportunity to spend their days in as natural a state as possible.