Let me begin by stating that irregardless of the colour of your skin, your political or religious beliefs, your age, your sex or sexuality, ALL LIVES ARE IMPORTANT. That said, since the world appears to have gone completely insane this year, first with the SARS-CoV-2 madness which hasn’t killed the millions it was ‘profiled’ to, but has caused global economic chaos that will have to be paid for somehow, and second by the latest wave of protests responding to the unfortunate death of George Floyd in the US, I simply had to express my own commentary.
From the safety of my home, with a nice glass of Malbec red wine, I am conducting my own protest against injustice, but not breaking any lock down instructions nor endangering any other lives, including law enforcement officials. You can join me in my peaceful protest, if you feel the urge:
Although it is a fundamental right for all citizens of this world to have and express their own opinions, and even manifest that in PEACEFUL protesting where other lives are not endangered, utilizing the logic of current protestors, should we also all come out in protest the next time a white criminal is killed by the police, or for that matter when a black criminal rapes and kills a defenseless old lady in her own home?
Additionally, IF Black Lives MATTER so much, as these protestors insist on chanting with such great enthusiasm, how many of them have actually gone to AIDS-infested Africa and volunteered to help? How many are prepared to be part of the solution rather than perpetuate the problem of racial unrest? How many are prepared to protest and work towards actually protecting Black Lives in Africa (and elsewhere in the world) by helping stamp out Tuberculosis, Cholera, Typhoid, AIDS, etc.?
My point…? Stop responding to spoon-fed sound bytes and following the ‘sheeple’, do your research, understand your TRUE history, and if you want to stop discrimination and not fuel further racism you have to be the solution you seek. ALL crimes are wrong. If Black communities want to improve their standing in society they have to respect where they live, help law enforcement stamp out the criminals and drug dealers, stop feeling entitled to things they haven’t earned, and actually participate in making this a better world for everybody.
Stop feeling so put upon and hard done by! Since you are no longer slaves, stop acting like one, and take ownership of your life! History is filled with ‘heroes’ you can research that have come from a ‘poor’ background, people who have chosen to take control of their lives and overcome adversity, learn from them and ACT upon your life! Things won’t change over night, but with persistence and commitment we can all make this a much, much better world for everybody: you just have to do your part and change what is directly in your influence to change.
“Be The Change You Want To See In The World.”-Gandhi
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Anthony James Donnelly is a writer, actor, and entrepreneur.
He is the author of The Cockroach Chronicles: A great primer into the topic of discrimination and prejudice, accessible to all ages. Filled with words of wisdom about compassion and understanding. Available on Amazon.
If you are visiting Thailand and looking for a reputable elephant experience, I can whole-heartedly recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary just outside Pattaya (or any of their three other locations for that matter!) I promise you it will be something that will stay with you forever.
Just before Christmas last year, I had the good fortune to visit an old friend in Thailand for the first time. One of the items on my ‘Must Do‘ list was to spend time with some elephants, as I’ve loved them since I was a kid – I mean, who doesn’t love elephants? A quick online search showed there were three choices in the Pattaya area, but which were ethical and not just tourist traps that exploited the creatures? It didn’t take long to discover the only one that didn’t mistreat the elephants was the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. The other two sites chained their elephants, let people ride them – which is a totally no-no as it’s not good for them – and their were even reports of the elephants at other sites being beaten in view of the visitors!!!
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – My Experience in Words and Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll try and balance the two, and hopefully not bore you with either too many words or too many pictures, but I wish to capture my wonderful experience as best I can, not only for your benefit, but also in the hope that it will shed more light and support on this wonderful organisation and their great work
The sanctuary offers a number of experiences dependent upon the amount of time you have and your budget, from a quick visit to see and pet them all the way up to a whole day trekking with them. I opted for something in the middle, which could either be a morning or afternoon experience. The price for this was 2500 Thai Baht, which worked out to be about sixty quid. Now, before you go screaming to the hills about the price, first remember the Baht is at an all-time high, but hear what you get for your money. This price included return transportation from my hotel (which would have cost at least 1000 Baht!) and a superb meal (which would have cost upwards of 500 Baht!) And that’s before I’ve told you what you get for the rest of your money (1000 Baht) which if you don’t think is terrific value for money, you probably can’t afford to travel to Thailand anyway, and should really think about buying a good book and a stay-cation instead!
What You Get For 1000 Baht
I opted for the afternoon experience which began with the taxi picking me up from my hotel at 12.30. We stopped twice along the way to pick up two other elephant-lovers, and half an hour later we were out of the noisy city and in the countryside, bouncing up a dirt road towards the sanctuary. There was already a group of other eager elephant-lovers milling around the facility and interacting with the animals, and the guides told us to get to know the elephants while we waited for one more small group to arrive.
The Pattaya location had managed to rescue six elephants (other locations have more, especially the oldest site in Chang Mai to the north of Thailand) which ranged from the youngest, who was only three years old, all the way up to the Grandpa, who was over sixty! No matter what age, elephants are just so amazingly cute. Apart from on telly and in London zoo, I’ve never seen an elephant in the flesh, so to be in such close vicinity to these peaceful, majestic ‘land whales’ is almost beyond words to describe, but I’ll try.
The most obvious thing about elephants are their size, but they are anything but scary, as they move very slowly and cautiously – apart from their trunks when there’s food around! They have a very calm, almost meditative aura about them, and my first reaction was to just go up to this ‘mummy-to-be’ elephant and give her a big hug and kiss on the nose. As you would expect, their skin is very thick and tough, and stroking them is like getting an exfoliation! By the time the last group arrived by taxi, I’d said hello to all six elephants, and had learnt a lot from the many guides and handlers that were on site.
Our group was approximately 40 in total, and came from all corners of the world. After a brief introduction given in very good English by one of the guides, outlining the action plan for the afternoon, safety protocol, and the ‘do’s and don’ts’ around elephants, it was time for the first activity: feeding the elephants! There were many, many baskets of food (bananas, cucumbers, and other vegetation) which we could feed the elephants either by holding it out and letting them grab it with their trunks, or – if we were feeling brave – say the word, “Bonn” and they would open their mouths, stick out their tongues, and we could feed them directly!
Naturally, I chose to feed them directly, and was amazed how easy it was (and how enormous their tongues are!) There was so much food, it was probably about half an hour before all the food had gone, and the whole time was filled will laughter, amazement, and pure child-like bliss for all participants (and even a few strange shrieks from some of the more timid participants who got ‘goosed’ by the odd trunk or two!) As we were feeding the elephants, the wonderful aroma of Thai cooking wafted through the air, as the cooks prepared our meal.
The Elephant Mud Spa!
Having been instructed to change into our swimming gear, next on the agenda was to grab more bananas and lead the elephant troop alone a dusty pathway to their muddy watering hole for a well-earned mud spa! Guess who lead the way…?
Oh, I forgot to mention, as I add all these wonderful photographs to this post, additionally in the price, there was a photographer on hand snapping merrily away, so you didn’t have to worry about missing anything, and could just focus on fully enjoying the experience! That probably would have cost another 1000 Baht to arrange!
Time to strip off and get muddy! Since I was there during the dry season, their mud hole was particularly dry, but the staff had prepared for that and there were plenty of buckets and wheel barrows full of lovely, sloppy mud for us to play with. Being almost 50, this experience simply knocked the years off me, as I became a big kid again! Looking around at the others, I could tell I wasn’t alone in this experience, especially as the guides actively encouraged us to get muddy ourselves!
Rinse and Scrub Time!
Like any good spa treatment, at some point you have to get clean again, and this is where the REAL fun began…
Armed with water bowls and scrubbing brushes, we and the elephants plodded to the other side of the path where their ‘swimming pool’ was, and actively began tossing water over the elephants and ourselves, scrubbing them clean. We were all upstaged by baby elephant to immediately lay on his side, completely submerged, with only the end of his trunk sticking out of the water like a snorkel, and began to thrash his legs about with glee!
Playtime over, it was time to lead the elephants back to camp, and have a proper shower and clean-up before dinner time. All of the facilities were clean, in great working order, and more than you would have expected for such a remote and basic location – trust me, I witnessed far worse facilities in some of the bars and restaurants in Pattaya!
Our Thai buffet was ready and waiting for us with food aplenty! They had even catered for all participants dietary requirements with vegetarian and vegan options, and fruit to finish off with. Between bites of food, the conversation was filled with expressions of how amazing the experience had been and, “Way more than I had expected…” and, “This is such great value for money…!”
And as if that wasn’t enough, they had even more surprises: each of us got a reusable, sustainable shopping bag as a keepsake and reminder of our experience, and there was one final activity before our taxi rides home, but I’ll let you search their website to find out what this one is! The only clue I’ll give you is that it sure surprised me…!
Find Out More About Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Thank you for reading all the way to the end. I hope I’ve whet your appetite and you’re keen to know more, or have the experience yourself. If that’s the case, or you simply want to help spread the word about their great work, please share this post, use the links below to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and generally spread the word!
Anthony Donnelly is a British author, actor, and life coach, more recently known for his charity, children’s book series, “Charlie, the Migrating Snail”, which is available to buy on Amazon by clicking the book cover to the right.
Would you like some great coaching to help put you on the right path to success in your acting career?
This is a unique opportunity to do both in one three hour session on July 20th, 2015, with top photographer Vanessa Champion and Lifestyle Architecture (TM) coach Anthony Donnelly. In addition to all the benefits you’ll get listed below, every participant has the opportunity to WIN their session for FREE, just as our way of saying thank you and giving something extra back.
What You’ll Get:
• 10 Great Headshots (£250 value)
• x2-3 costume changes
• Strategic Life Coaching (£250 value)
• The ‘Business’ of Acting Briefing
• Strengths & Opportunities Analysis (£100 value)
• The Success Action Plan
• Peer Networking
TOTAL VALUE: £600.00
ALL this for ONLY £100.00 per attendee…!!!
For further details and booking information follow the links below:
London is so vast, so fascinating, so full of life and things to observe. London is an experience. London is ever changing and evolving. In a way it’s like being at a cultural ‘all you can eat’ buffet…! Where do you start? Which bit do you see first? Well, having now experienced a Bullshit London Tour firsthand last night, I can safely say this would be a great appetizer for anyone new to London, AND anyone that’s lived here their whole life.
I arrived early at the front of St. Paul’s Cathedral where the tour kicks off every Thursday at 7pm, and just as the website says, the tour guide was VERY easy to spot. Quite a crowd had gathered for the first tour of their 2015 season – about 30+ ‘grown-ups’ looking for a good time and some serious BS. From what I could make out, the crowd consisted of a few couples and a large group of office workers adding a touch of originality to a leaving party. Many were already in quite high spirits, and adult beverages aren’t frowned upon (as long as you drink responsibly).
After a quick head count to ensure nobody will be left behind and the ‘legalities’ are taken care of (you’ll have to take a tour to find out what that’s all about!) the tour quickly jumps into high gear and the BS starts flowing like a Monsoon river in the rainy season! Some of the comedy is intellectual, but still very accessible to those without an Ox-bridge education, but mostly it is sharp, edgy, and downright silly, with the participants having to dodge the odd pun or two!
The tour trips along at quite a pace, and Reuben Williams (the creator of Bullshit London back in 2013 and the main tour guide) keeps the narrative lively and the group buzzing. Before you know it you are discovering ridiculous facts about The Roman Renaissance Movement of the 1800s… the new Russian Quarter of London… tales of the London Mermaid… and the spot where Queen Victoria exploded… amongst other things!
Taking about two hours to complete, it’s a good job for the drinkers that there’s a halfway stopping point and ‘toilet break’ location en route. This also allows the crowd to familiarize themselves with each other, chat about the jokes and gags, and generally allow their minds to soak in all the Bull.
For those readers that know nothing of Bullshit London Tours, I should add a little word of explanation at this stage before you get completely lost. These aren’t your average, boring city tours with a stuffy, old historian-type guide who knows it all and loves the sound of his own voice… no sir, no indeed… this is more a walk on the wild side… the type of tour of the cool kids on the block that want ‘in’ on what’s really going on. If you’re the kind of person that never gets invited to parties, or hear about things after the fact, you probably won’t even be reading this, let alone go on a tour! As their website (www.bullshitlondon.com) states they will show you “the kind of London that would have happened if Monty Python had been elected Queen.” The landmarks are real, but the facts about them are completely made up.
In three years, Williams has managed to grow quite a cult following, and the tours get bigger and bigger each year. The participants range from stag nights and office parties, to Australian tourists, along with locals just out for a bit of fun. When I asked him the largest group he’d ever taken round, he said it was close to 60 people for a special event. Confident, charismatic, and well versed in BS, Williams is the perfect host for a fun night out in London.
I certainly got my tenner’s worth of bullshit last night and have a thoroughly brilliant night.