Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Pattaya, Thailand

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.

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If you’re in a rush, click on the image above to go to their website

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

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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

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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.

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It’s hard to see, but this lovely lady is almost due to give birth!

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.

Feeding Time!

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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!

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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…?

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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!

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I don’t know who’s muddier, me or the baby elelphant!

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…

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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!

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If you look VERY closely, you can just see baby elephant in the water in front of me.

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!

Website: https://elephantjunglesanctuary.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ejspattaya/

Twitter: @ejspattaya

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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.

Cashing in on Christmas: FREE BOOK!

Most authors of self-help books might be cashing in at this time of the year, especially if it’s one about setting goals and New Year’s Resolutions, but because I want people to actually read and benefit from my book, it’s FREE all this weekend, and if you can’t afford to buy the book after this offer expires, you can email me here and I’ll send you a free pdf or audio file!

“Set goals that you are willing to fail for.”

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FREE Books For Christmas

Rainbows New CoverIt’s Christmas. A time for love, generousity, and for giving, or ‘forgiving’. For this reason, ALL my kindle books will be free both today (Christmas Day) and tomorrow (Boxing Day) as a way of saying thank you to all my friends old and new, and spreading more of the spirit of the season.

All I ask in return is, if you download a copy of my book, please take a few minutes to honestly rate and review the book on amazon 🙂

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS:

Dr Wayne DyerI’m not really one for making resolutions for New Year, but at this time I do like to reflect back on the past few months and take stock. Like many of you, I’m sure, this has been a great year, but also a bummer of a year. I lost two very great and dear friends: Dr. Wayne Dyer, a motivational force in my life, and Richard Anthony Eyre, an old school friend.

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Richard Eyre 1970 – 2015

They will both be missed.

 

On the upside, I’ve met and made numerous new friends, mostly in the film and TV industry. Another positive to the year: I’m very excited at the great progress I’ve made since April of breaking back into the acting world again. A short film I starred in landed at Cannes, thanks to the wonderful director Miho Sugita. I finally got an agent! And I have two new film scripts doing the rounds. It’s almost as if my life has come full circle and I’ve arrived back where I was before I left sixteen years ago!

On the writing front, my books continue to sell – Thank you all for that! Although I feel a little lazy at not having completed ALL the new books I had planned to publish this year, they are still in the works and WILL BE published in 2016. How about that for positive thinking?!

Talking of positive thinking, it’s been wonderful to connect with some old friends (Tony Wilson, and Trevor Oakland, to name just two!) from the distant past and indulge my other passion for self-development and motivation. When there’s something you just can’t help yourself from doing, then that’s a good sign you should be doing it (if it’s positive in nature!)

 

Did I Give Enough, Live Enough, Laugh Enough, and Love Enough…?

When I reflect back on this year, there’s one question I ask myself, and that’s written above. I have certainly laughed a lot this year, thanks to new friends, Stephen, Jo, Louise, Helen, Ness, Rachael, and Darryl. Did I give enough…? I’m sure I could have given more, but within my financial constraints I think I gave as much as I could monetarily, on a personal level, definitely! As far as living enough, I don’t think there’s much more this little chap could have crammed into the last 12 months. I always consider myself as lazy, but then look at what I’ve managed to do and wonder why I keep thinking that! And then there’s love… ah, that sweet, alusive thing… As far as giving my love away, that has been joyously done over the year. More on a platonic level than romantic, but there is always hope…! I’m sure, somewhere out there, there is a young lady that has the patience to put up with my ‘insanity’.

Well, if you’ve read this far, I commend you. What a ramble! Here are the links to my free books. Enjoy! Share! And for all of you I have not yet wished a very Merry Christmas and a superb New Year, that was it.

FREE BOOKS:

Click on the book cover to take you to the amazon link for the book (sorry, these are US links. You’ll have to transfer to the country link you need!)

Rainbows New CoverWHEN THE RAINBOW SMILED

A delighful, powerful short read accompanied by 19 exceptional watercolour paintings. Peace, love, harmony and balance.

 

 

The Shepherd Cover ArtTHE SHEPHERD

A new age parable about connecting and listening to your heart. Let the Shepherd guide you to where you should be in life.

 

 

 

cockroach coverTHE COCKROACH CHRONICLES

Can we learn about ourselves from probably one of the most detested creatures on the planet? Find out through a series of ten letters this brave, little thing writes back to those at home fighting the Eternal War…

 

 

49q cover49Q? THE ENIGMA CONTINUES

Not an easy read this one, I’ll give you that. This is an experimental novel, part of a trilogy, a film, and a musical album that never quite made it off the ground. Read at your peril, is all I say… It almost drove me mad writing it, but it’s full of philosophy, ridiculousness, and mischief. It’ll make sense once you’ve read it!

 

Remember, if you download a copy, please leave a rating and review, thank you very much!

MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL,

AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

July 4th – International Forgiveness Day…?

NOTE: Many of my regular readers probably won’t like the questions posed or the turns this post will take, but stick with it, keep reading, trust me… You’ll agree with the outcome…

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JULY 4th – American Independence Day – is coming up soon… barely a month away…!

How many people are going to celebrate the day truly conscious of what it is in rememberance of? For most it will merely be a ‘day off’, a time to party and get drunk, a day to feel ‘patriotic’ (whatever that means these days?), a day to sleep in, a day to exercise their ‘freedoms’ (do we really have the same ones anymore? Try testing your Consitutional Rights some day, see how far you get…!) and quite possibly it’s a day for some to still stick two fingers up at the British… more than 2 centuries later.

But how were the ‘freedom fighters’ in Colonial English America back then any different to the ‘extremists’ of ISIS in the Middle East today? There were a few rebels and military personel – trained by the English… using English weapons… dispondent with having doctines imposed on them by outside bodies… non-military supporters joined in because they believed in the ’cause’… Sound familiar…?

International Forgiveness Day

Anyway, I digress… That was not the point of this post – merely an interesting aside – but it will hopefully have proven a point after you finish reading. No different to my puzzlement with non-caucasian friends that are so very pro-ethnic rights, but hate gays… and vice versa… my gay friends that don’t agree with the ‘race-imbalance’.

Which brings me neatly and nicely onto my ‘fun’ idea…

WHAT IF… what if… what if… just for one day – one day out of 365 in an average year – we, as a global nation, decided that we’d have an international day of forgiveness and understanding. Each and every one of us, for one day, forgiving one other person that we believe or perceive has wronged us. Imagine the ripple-out effect that could have…

We’ve all wronged someone at some time or another (whether we were aware of it or not) and we can all certainly remember all those instances where people have wronged us – in fact, many people are stewing over wrong-doings that date back years…! The problem is, they probably have no idea how much they wronged you.

Forgive And Learn From It

I meet so many people that are still harbouring grudges against people years, sometimes DECADES, after the fact. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t right, and it can easily change. Personally, I believe almost all of the wars and civil disputes that are still going on are a direct result of a lack of forgiveness: people and nations trying to settle ‘unfinished business’.

How difficult is it to say, “I forgive you.” and mean it…?

If you’ve ever done it, or been on the receiving end of an honest apology, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, this is your time to shine and grow! If you want to be forgiven, forgive… learn from it… feel how great it is to drop that baggage.

Forgive And Grow…

Think of all those resentments you have built up inside of you, festering away like a cancer – probably willing cancer to come and feed on your stress! Think of things in your childhood that still bug you… the teacher… the bully… the bus driver… the pervert… your parents… FORGIVE THEM…! They are harming you more NOW than they were then… FORGIVE THEM…!

You’ll feel a load lifted for doing it.

If you can’t do it face-to-face, close your eyes, imagine them in front of you, and… FORGIVE THEM…!

Imagine if THAT is what we did on Independence Day… “International Forgiveness Day”

Imagine forgiving and being forgiven…

ONE DAY to put the record straight…

The Big Picture

My blog is only followed by a handful of people, and most of them don’t really read my posts, so I doubt very much will come of this anyway, but imagine… imagine… WHAT IF…what if, a few people that read this decide this is a good idea, it’s good for them and good for others… WHAT IF… July 4th becomes an International Day of Forgiveness…WHAT IF… it doesn’t just stop with one day…?

WHAT IF people want to continue… Every day… Forgiving… Accepting… Loving… Learning… Teaching… Healing…

Ah…! I’m dreaming… We love war… and descrimination… and hatred… and sadness too much… It will never happen…

But…

WHAT IF…?

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The Shepherd Cover ArtANTHONY DONNELLY blogs about all things writing, inspirational, and motivational. He has published a number of books for children and adults. His latest book, a short, inspirational parable THE SHEPHERD  is currently climbing up the Amazon charts, and is available in Kindle or paperback. When not sat at his keyboard writing, he can be found in Costa Rica, North America, or somewhere in Europe motivating and coaching individuals and groups in self-development techniques and life-balance. Most recently you can see him back on the sets of films and in front of the modelling camera again.