Monday, September 20, 2010

Elephant Awareness Month

Announcing JEAM or Jerry’s Elephant Awareness Month! What’s this all about you might ask. Well gentle reader, I’m glad you asked. Here in Thailand there seems to be a dichotomy when it comes to the elephant. For those of you who also read you will know that this is almost a duplicate of an article posted there on the 19th of September. The photographs have been changed for this blog.                   
On his way to be released
(See "The Journey" at AsianElephantStories)
On one hand the elephant is truly revered in Thailand. Elephants are a critical part of Thai history. Epic battles were fought with the warriors riding elephants. They have been called tanks in time of war and trucks in time of peace. They appear in all aspects of Thai mythology, history and culture. They are used in marketing and advertising to a very great extent. “Chang” means Elephant in Thai; Chang beer is the most popular and heavily advertised brand in Thailand.

Menu at Taste from Heaven, Chiang Mai

Chedi wall at Wat Pra Sing in Chiang Mai
Chedi at Wat Pra Sing, Chiang Mai with Elephants protecting all four sides

On the other hand the elephant has been and is being exploited by man. The suffering is horrid, just horrid. From logging, now illegal and mostly eradicated in Thailand but still legal and prevalent in neighboring Burma, to street begging to tourist performances and trekking elephants are being abused.

A baby Elephant working the streets
Elephants are known for protecting their young.  If one is startled the whole family group, as many as six or seven elephants, immediately surround and sooth the baby.  Take that baby away from it's mother, it's family and make it walk the streets.  The poor things are terrified!  Look at the expression of the baby above and then look at the image below! 

Protected and Loved!
Enter JEAM. For the next month every time I go anywhere with a camera I’ll be collecting images of elephant things. Signs, brands, statues, stuffed toys and anything else I happen to see. I’ll then share the images with you in hopes that when you see them you will feel a bit of compassion for the real elephants here and around the world. Oh, since we are on Thai time and to commemorate the 18 to 24 month gestation period that elephants endure to continue their species, Jerry’s Elephant Awareness Month will from today through the last of October and may continue into early November depending on my travel schedule.
Available at Chiang Mai's Walking Street, I've gotta buy one these!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

This is just a brief posting to let you know I’m home for a week and will be working on a couple of, what I hope to be, articles for this blog. I met my friend Michael in Bangkok, we kicked around for a couple of days and caught the train to Chiang Mai, arriving yesterday. Today I caught the bus home.

My morning started with breakfast with David at the Silomjoy restaurant. I’m quite fond of their fresh coffee and their mango pan cake. It’s so easy to find; just inside the Tae Pae gate next door to Black Canyon Coffee (which is also good). While I think of it, fellow coffee drinker, get a purchase card from Black Canyon Coffee. Something like the 7th cup will be free! The coffee is much better than Starbucks and it’s more affordable. Having said that, at the Tae Pae gate, I’d recommend the Silomjoy.

Check this one out when in Chiang Mai

We went up to the ENF office for a quick meeting and to say hello to several of the rescued dogs that call the place home.  Cinderella has been there about six weeks.  When she first arrived she was terrified of everyone.  Now she's just very very timid. 

Next it was off to the bus station. I caught a tuk tuk and off I went with the camera blazing. I love the 8 shots a second mode, it helps with candid shots.

I love the expressions

Really close, notice the reflection in her glasses?

I deliberately arrived an hour early so I could get a foot massage. Come to Thailand and enjoy this treat! Maybe I’ll do a whole article on massage. If you are interested let me know. Comment here or better drop me an email.

Yes, those are my very own feet!
In the aisle across from me on the bus are two ladies, one is trying to take the others picture. I offered to take a shot of them both. I was really amazed at the English language fluency till I found out they are from Boston!

Amahie and her big sister (she said mom, but I don't buy it)
Here’s a travel secret, just for you. If you get the VIP green bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and you happen to get one that is going on to Mae Sai the bus will stop at both the new bus station and the old one. I found out after the fact, but the driver and bus girl were happy to give me a lift into town. My seat had been purchased only to the new station and another lucky passenger had purchased it’s use from Chiang Rai forward. No problem. The bus girl put me in her jump seat and perched herself on the edge of the doorway. I love these people, they are entirely gracious!

The driver and the bus girl, such marvelous people!

Look for a couple chapters on Bangkok in the next few days.  I've some 600 images and two or three story lines to consider.  It's great to be home, life is good!

Abundant Blessings,