Nadia Lee | NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of Contemporary Romance » Blog Archive » Honeymoon Day 6 Part 1: Maesa Elephant Camp
Honeymoon Day 6 Part 1: Maesa Elephant Camp

The next morning Hero Material and I got up early for our taxi. We were a little worried that the driver might show up late, but he came on time. And to make it even better, he spoke great English and knew a lot about tourist attractions, etc. The best thing about it was that his rate was very reasonable, and Hero Material and I could do the tour leisurely, on our own schedule.

(FYI — if you want to hire him for a private tour in Chiang Mai, his name is Manop, he works for Chiang Mai Airport Taxi, his car number is 11, and his work contact is 08-1885-1563 [Don’t forget to punch in the country code for Thailand first if you’re calling from overseas!] or if you prefer, you can email him at nopcm02 at hotmail dot com.)

Our biggest concern — now that the taxi thing was squared away — was that we didn’t want to go to an elephant camp that had abused animals. I heard some horror stories from a British couple in Phuket. The wife said the elephants she saw were so abused that they tried to beat their own trainers! Ack.

The elephant camp we chose was Maesa.

There are the pictures from the entrance. The portraits you see below are the king and queen of Thailand from way back when they were still young.

Maesa Elephant Camp entrance

Maesa Elephant Camp entrance

Maesa Elephant Camp entrance

Maesa Elephant Camp entrance

Maesa Elephant Camp entrance

As we walked in, we saw elephants bathing. That’s how the show begins, BTW. They looked so happy in the water.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant bath

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant bath

Here, you see people collecting elephant poo. Per Manop, elephant poo is very fibrous, so the camp recycles that into paper. (So the next time you think you’re a shitty writer, now you can have the perfect paper! Perfect for shitty first drafts!)

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant dung gathering

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant dung paper

Along the way, you can see an art gallery. It displays paintings by elephants at the camp.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant art gallery

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant painting

We went to the main arena for the show and waited. It takes a while for all the elephants to show up because they move in a leisurely fashion. They were very quiet though. You don’t hear any thuds or anything like that, which was kind of surprising.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephants gathering

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephants and mahouts

The people you see on the elephants are called mahouts. They’re trainers and caretakers. Elephants do not like to deal with people they don’t know or like, so it takes a while to earn the animals’ trust and become a mahout.

Finally the show got started. You see how they march in with a welcome banner and all the elephants are linked, trunk to tail.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant march

This baby was also part of the show.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant march — baby!

Here’s a very short video clip I made with my digital camera. This is a kind of elephant musical, featuring hoops and harmonicas.

Many elephants were very playful. They sometimes stole their mahouts’ hats.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant steals mahout hat

Elephants are also excellent soccer players. Look at this goalie posing!

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant goalie

Here are short video clips of elephant soccer!

And the super goalie!

As you can hear, the Europeans in the audience got REALLY excited during the soccer portion of the show. :D

Afterward the elephants painted some pictures for us.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant artist

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant painting

Then to thank some of their hard-working mahouts, elephants gave a Thai massage…

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant massages mahout

Maesa Elephant Camp: mahout still lives!

(No, he wasn’t mortally wounded…just bowing LOL)

The dart throwing competition: Who will prevail? An elephant or human children?

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant v. humans

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant working hard to crush humans

(Actually they tied…)

Finally the elephants built a wall of sorts. You can see how strong they are! (FYI — they were all fully grown elephants…no babies.)

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant building something...

And look how triumphant they look after they’re finished. :wub:

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant showing off

After the show, the elephants came closer to say hello to the audience.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephants say hello

You can see me and Hero Material with the elephants.

Maesa Elephant Camp: Hero Material, Nadia Lee and elephants

This elephant liked us a lot because he got tons of bananas from Hero Material. HM bought a bunch of bananas to give to the elephants, but he held them too close to one, so the closest one got all of them. Oy…

Maesa Elephant Camp: Hero Material, Nadia Lee and the greedy elephant

We were a little thirsty and tired, so we had some coconut juice then went off into the jungle on an elephant.

Maesa Elephant Camp: ride — off we go!

Look at the caravan!

Maesa Elephant Camp: caravan

Elephants don’t move very fast, so it wasn’t unstable or anything, but it can get a little scary if you don’t like the height.

Maesa Elephant Camp: view

As your elephant carries you around, it wants to eat. Well, the problem is that sometimes the grass it wants is on the downhill slope…! Ours actually tried to go down the slope instead of following the trail. So the mahout had to scold him some. (But he never hit the elephant!)

Maesa Elephant Camp: hungry elephants

Another pic of us on the trail…

Maesa Elephant Camp: Hero Material and Nadia Lee on an elephant

The view of the elephant camp:

Maesa Elephant Camp: camp view

The final stop was a stream. That’s where elephants can drink water; because it’s so hot and humid, they need to cool off, rehydrate…and bathe. But you gotta be careful because they tend not to think about the fact that the humans on their back don’t want to get wet!

Maesa Elephant Camp: stream

Maesa Elephant Camp: humans got wet...thanks, elephant!

After we got done with our ride, the elephant lunch time started. Some of them also got a nice cool shower.

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant lunch break

Maesa Elephant Camp: elephant shower

We went to the nursery to feed the elephants there.

Maesa Elephant Camp: feeding elephants at the nursery

You can see the mother and the baby. He was so young that he couldn’t eat any regular food, so we didn’t get to feed him, though his mom ate a lot of bananas.

Maesa Elephant Camp: mom and baby

Maesa Elephant Camp: baby elephant

Maesa Elephant Camp: Hero Material feeding Mom

Maesa Elephant Camp: Nadia Lee feeding Mom

Afterward, we went to several huts with exhibits. Here you can see the tool that mahouts use to control elephants. It’s basically used to tug at the elephants, but some jerks apparently use it to hit them in the head…! Grr.

Maesa Elephant Camp: tool exhibit

Then we went to see the record-setting painting by elephants. We weren’t allowed to take pictures there (kind of a like an art museum…), but you can read about it here.

We also bought some souvenirs. We don’t tend to buy them much, but since Maesa obviously treated its elephants nicely and we wanted them to continue to be cared for in the manner they deserve…

I’m breaking the log for this day into multiple sections because there are too many pictures, etc. After the camp, we went to the Tiger Kingdom, where Spicy Sausage awaits! Coming up next! :)

3 comments to “Honeymoon Day 6 Part 1: Maesa Elephant Camp”

  1. Jeannie Lin
    · April 12th, 2010 at 9:31 pm · Link

    Kudos to the brave trainer to subjected himself to the elephant massage. What if the poor thing sneezes and missteps?

    Awesome pictures. I didn’t believe the painting until I saw the elephant with the brush. Also it was a good thing that you took care to find a place where they treated the animals well.

  2. Renmiu
    · April 13th, 2010 at 3:35 am · Link

    Shitty writer? That is sooooo funny :D haha


  3. Nadia Lee
    · April 13th, 2010 at 11:39 am · Link

    What if the poor thing sneezes and missteps?

    Jeannie…maybe he cries? LOL. Actually the elephants at the camp were very very gentle and sweet. They were also very healthy, and Manop told us that there’s a hospital right inside the camp that makes sure that all the elephants there are healthy.

    Renmiu — You’re welcome! :-)

Comments are closed.