Adventures as Miss Saigon

I had a wonderful afternoon with my lil guy at school, watching him play and learn and be with peers! Was so great to see his parents and brother as well!! Can’t wait to see them all again tomorrow!

Afterwards, I headed back to my old stomping grounds, picked up a bubble tea (mmmmmmmmm) and went for a mani/pedi. I got the works done, glitter and designs as well! So hilarious! The girls here are talented!!

Am just about to grab some dinner and head to bed early…I get to see my little guy bright and early again tomorrow!

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Now that’s what I call a Vietnamese pedi!!

Treating myself to my first Vietnamese iced coffee! It’s as good as I remember!! Although I’m missing my coffee company…

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This afternoon I get to see J and his family! So excited!!

I’ve been sitting in airports and on airplanes for most of the day, not connected with the world due to lack of wifi. (This won’t be posted until later due to this lack of wifi.) This has given me an enormous amount of time to read and think.

This trip has been so incredible. As soon as one amazing thing ends, another is about to begin. I’m sad to say goodbye to Thailand, but so overcome with emotion (I’m fighting back happy tears!) that I get to see my little man, J, and his family tomorrow and over the next few weeks. Initially, I had so many places I wanted to visit or revisit in Vietnam, but every time J’s dad would post new pictures of my little guy on Facebook, I would cross a city off my list to be able to spend more time with him. Needless to say, I’m now spending most of my 2.5 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City to spend as much time with J as possible.

Also exciting is that my path will cross with my friend and former coworker, Natasha. We get to hang out in HCMC during my last week in Asia, and before she begins the next phase of her life in Australia!

So excited for the next 2.5 weeks! (And part of me is also excited about coming home…I really do miss my family, friends and furbaby!)

What an incredible 2.5 weeks it’s been! From beautiful beaches in the south to Bangkok’s epic nightlife, meeting up with old friends and making new friends, markets and temples in the north to intimate encounters with elephants, this has been an incredible first half of my trip. This really is the land of smiles, and the people in Thailand have been warm and welcoming at every step of the way. It’s sad for me to say goodbye to this country, to the delicious food, to the beautiful sunshine and more, but I know I’ll be back someday!

Next, I fly back to Bangkok and then on to HCMC, Vietnam, where I have an equally exciting 2.5 weeks to look forward to!

It’s amazing watching the vendors arrive on their motorbikes with all their merchandise, unload and start to set up for the walking market. Soon, this street will have no cars, but will be packed with people!

I woke up this morning at 5:30am to be able to watch the sunrise and see the park come to life. It was incredible sitting on the viewing platform, pretty much alone, as the sun began to shed light on the beautiful park.

After breakfast, we met our new guide, Adam, for another morning walk. We started out visiting the 2 month old baby elephant and his mother. I could watch these two for ages…the mother had been injured by a landline and has a deformed foot, but is so sweet and I fed her all of my bananas…the baby is so playful and curious, rolling around, playing and nursing, and really just being a baby! Our walk lasted about 2 hours, in which time I fed an elephant directly into her mouth, bought an elephant carving from one of the mahouts, and got reasonably close to Hope (one of the naughty boys, whose mahout has to ride him – he’s the only one allowed to ride – in order to kept control of Hope, and the mahout hasn’t had a day off in 3 years because he’s the only one able to control Hope) and to Jungle Boy (another naughty boy, with big white tusks, who is currently in heat and chained up because of it, as he will apparently hump everyone!).

After lunch, I volunteered to help chop fruit (with a machete!) for the elephants…Adam stuck with us, and we had many laughs while chopping pumpkins, watermelons and pineapples. A quick visit back to the dogs was followed by a bit of ‘trekking’ with Adam through some fields, across a bridge and around a village. Adam had us trying fruits that he was picking off the trees that we passed…so fun!

The day was wonderful and relaxing and I didn’t want it to end. I’m sad that my time at the elephant park has ended, but so happy to have had the experience! I have so much respect for these amazing creatures and the people who work everyday to protect them. I cannot believe how close they allowed (and encouraged) us to get, how many positive opportunities I had to engage with the ellies, and how graceful these massive creatures really are. And, as a side note, the training principles used at the park are all positive behaviour strategies…so amazing to see what I do on a daily basis being implemented with elephants!!

Back in Chiang Mai, I grabbed a quick shower, dropped off $3 worth of laundry, changed a bit of money and had a bite to eat. On the way back to my guesthouse, I ran into one of the guys from my hostel in Bangkok! Such a big city, but small world 🙂

Off to bed soon, as this girl is exhausted! One more day in Thailand!!

This morning it was difficult to get out of bed…it was so cold! I was extremely thankful I showered last night and didn’t need to risk a cold shower on top of things! I changed quickly and made my way out to the elephants by 7am. Breakfast (as with all of our other meals) have been vegetarian, quite tasty and eaten in view of the elephants. After breakfast, I snuck off to have a little one on one time with the 2 month old baby elephant before the crowds of day visitors arrived. At 8:30, we met Bee, our guide, and began our 2.5 hour walk around the fields and property here at Elephant Nature Park. We visited with group after group of elephants and their mahouts. At times, we stood and watched from a distance, sometimes we got up close and personal with the ellies, and other times we had to quickly get out of the way of on coming elephant traffic! The whole time Bee was answering questions and telling stories about each elephant and their relationships with others at the park. We arrived back at the main building in time for the elephant’s snack and our lunch.

Bath time this afternoon at the river was just as amazing as yesterday. I jumped right in with my bucket and got a little wet in the process. Lots of time was spent observing these amazing creatures in such a natural setting.

After bath time, our group walked over to the dog part of the park, where about 400 dogs and puppies are kept. Some have tragic stories of abuse, some were rescued from the Bangkok floods, and some were born at the park. We met Cody (him and his wife are both from Canada) who showed us around and introduced us to all the dogs. On their website, you can sponsor a dog for 1000B (about $35usd), so I’ve decided instead of buying treats and toys for my dog, I’m going to sponsor a dog here (seeing as I don’t think I’d be allowed to bring one home!). I’ll post their link here soon.

I’ve just come back to my hut for a shower, and will head to dinner shortly. Tomorrow, our new guide, Adam, is going to take us on another morning walk and then I think I’ll be helping out in the elephant kitchen washing and chopping fruit! And then sadly, tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have to leave this amazing place.

I’m up to about 500 or 600 pictures, so as soon as I get some decent wifi (likely while I’m back in Chiang Mai), I’ll start uploading some pics. I’m so privileged to be having this incredible experience!!