Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Day at the Elephant Nature Park

Before I forget to mention it there are new images posted on Photobucket. You can see them at http://s935.photobucket.com/albums/ad200/jnelson1944/June2010/

I've mentioned before that I have the honor of working with the Elephant Nature Foundation doing some volunteer work.  Last Tuesday, June 8th, I went to the Elephant Nature Park. David Hardcastle, the editor of our new magazine was kind enough to drive. His wife and son accompanied as well. We really had a great time, and I learned several interesting facts, and had the opportunity to make a few photographs.

Shot of the Day
Malia Tong is one of my favorite elephants. She suffered a horrible injury to her right rear foot some time ago; stepped on a land mine. You can take a minute and read her bio at http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org/go/elephants/elephant/malai-tong if you want to know more. The post script to the bio is that she is with child (oh she may have delivered by now). What a magic chapter in her life and what a statement about the ENF! There will be more about the baby as soon as practical.

I'm very pregnant and my foot hurts, could you step aside please.

The Elephant Nature Foundation is the product of an amazing woman who we call Lek. You can read all about her at http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org Me, I’m amazed at her drive, dedication and determination to make a difference. Lek is a great example of the good that can be done with right motives. I’ve seen how she operates and I’ve seen the results. She is generous and unselfish and the things she has been able to accomplish are proof that good can prevail.

Elephants are not the only thing that is rescued by the ENF. Lek has a collection of 60 some dogs, a few cats and let’s not forget the buffalo who provided an interesting opportunity for me to play around with Photoshop this morning. Enjoy!

Things to talk about in the near future include Malai Tong's baby, Thai language schools, Elephant camps and the 46th Special Forces Association.  Stay tuned.

Abundant Blessings!

Jerry Nelson

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Good News! Elephants,Teeth and the Bus

The Nature Elephant Foundation: The big news is that the Elephant Nature Foundation is about to launch a magazine. More, much more, about this project later but I have to share this little bit with you. Yours truly has been given the honor to work on this project. I’ll be a staff photographer, do a bit of writing and whatever else we feel is appropriate. I’m totally excited. Everyone involved in the Elephant Nature Foundation is a consummate professional. Khun Lek has assembled an amazing crew; I’m humbled just to be included.   They have a link here, but just in case you can't find it: http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org/  and  http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/ 

One who was rescued.  Doesn't she look happy?

Thailand transportation: Thailand has an excellent transportation infrastructure. There are airlines to support the major cities. I can fly from Chiang Rai to Bangkok on any of 4 or 5 flights per day. From Chiang Mai I can fly back to the States or to many other destinations without having to change planes in Bangkok.

The rail system is great. You can take the North – South route from Chiang Mai all the way to Malaysia. The Northeastern line runs from Bangkok to Nong Khai (at the Thai border across from Vientiane Laos. There are a couple of other routes, including a run to the “Bridge on the River Kwai”. Personally I prefer the trains to the bus if I can get a 1st class sleeper and it a reasonably long trip. A second class air-conditioned train is great for a day trip. I’ve ridden third class and will leave that adventure for the younger and tougher back-pack crowd.  There is a great review of the Thai railway system at http://www.siampedia.org/ (The site has lots of other useful information and is updated regularly).

Take the Bus:

This is Mick Connoley's photograph
I just did the caption using his words.
(of course he did use my fish eye) :-)

There is an excellent chance that you will want to go where the trains don’t. Thailand’s bus system will get you there! Some of the short runs to the little villages may have an occasional air-conditioned bus, but most of the buses are ordinary class (it’s equivalent to 3rd class on the trains), but it will get you there.

1st class bus means air-conditioning and an assigned seat. These are really quite nice. If you are tall avoid the 1st row as the leg room is limited. On long hauls they give you a meal voucher and provide you with a bottle of water. The VIP class from the Green Bus company is my preferred way of getting back and forth to Chiang Mai. It’s non-stop and the seats are large. 3 seats across with the isle dividing seats A & B. I usually read an hour and nap an hour. The VIP bus is easy to find as it’s the only one with a marquee sign to announce your choice has been found.


Ordinary Bus

One of my favorite reasons for taking the bus is the photo opportunities that pop up. It’s very common to find a baby and mother, really cool looking old people and you gotta love the decorations expecially in the ordinary class bus..

Check this out; love the clock!

Ordinary class buses have fans and sometimes they work. However, be careful! The long arm of OSHA has not yet reached this fair land. Take for example the overcrowded we recently took from Nang Rong to Burriram. I could barely stand up for the low ceiling. I started to take a step backwards and Maliwan grabbed me a pulled me toward her with such force I have rarely seen. The look in her eye was a combination of determination and terror. I looked at her like she’s finally lost it and then she told me to look at the fan. It was about eye level with me and had NOTHING covering the metal blades which were happily whirring along waiting for their next victim. I will add this is the only truly dangerous thing I’ve encountered on any public transportation.

This could really hurt!

Dental Care in Thailand: Did you know that medical tourism is a pretty big business in Thailand? Yesterday I found out why it’s so successful. I went to Grace Dental Clinic, www. The first order of business was a deep cleaning and a consultation. The examination, consultation and cleaning cost me THB 1,650. The next order of business is a root canal on two teeth, crowns on those teeth and a new lower partial. The estimated cost for the whole thing is between THB 64,500 and THB 46,500 with the difference being in the material I can select for the crowns. Gold is expensive these days. Anyway all this comes out to around $2,000 if I use gold and around $1,500 if I use gold filled material. I was amazed at the credentials of the staff. Each dentist has her/his photo on the wall with their bio. Boston University, a center in Germany, U of Alabama, and more are included. The predominant school is Chiang Mai University where the periodontist that cleaned my teeth is from. If she is indicative, Chiang Mai University has one fine dental school.  More Information is available at their web site:  http://www.gracedentalclinic.com/

Let’s learn Thai: Thai language school starts for me next Monday. Class will be Monday and Friday or, as I prefer to think of it Friday and Monday. We took a small bungalow in Chiang Mai on a month to month basis. I’ll be there every weekend plus a few other days for the Nature Elephant Foundation. This course includes reading and writing and offers the ever popular education visa. You can see more about the school at http://www.thaiwalen.com/ if you are interested.

Abundant Blessings!