After spending a few days relaxing at the resort, we decided it was time to get out and do a tour. Looking through the different packages we found a combination tour which included bamboo rafting, turtle conservation park, 2004 tsunami memorial and elephant trekking. Sounded perfect, a good days worth of activities, which also included elephant trekking which is something we have both really wanted to do.
We were picked up at 09:20AM by our private tour guide Robert. Our first stop was the turtle conservation sanctuary, here we saw the process of raising hatchlings into fully grown sea turtles who are then released into the wild.
The reason behind this sanctuary was to try and regain the sea turtles numbers as it is estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchling makes it to adulthood (sexual maturity).
Next was bamboo rafting, our guide led us down a local river where we could sit back relax and take in the beautiful scenery. We saw fish and a python curled up in a tree branch, which was really cool.
When we arrived back on shore we could see the men making the bamboo rafts, it was amazing how quickly they could whip up a raft, using literally only rope and bamboo.
Robert then took us for a delicious lunch before heading to Baan Nam Kem Tsunami Memorial Park in memory of those who lost their lives in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.
This is a picture of Baam Nam Kem beach. The beach looked so calm and harmless, there wasn’t even a ripple let alone a wave. It is so scary to think how quickly things can change.
This Buddha was built to help protect the town from any other natural disasters , it is truly beautiful.
When we were leaving to head to the elephant park Robert pointed out a boat that was dragged 2km from the beach we just visited to this patch of grass. Incredible to think of the power behind a tsunami wave!
Sairung Elephant Camp was our final destination for the day. I was skeptical about elephant trekking as I had heard some horrible things about the way the elephants are treated, chains through their ears, stabbing them to make them move, etc, so was so happy when I saw that Sairung Elephant Camp didn’t do any of that!
Sairung is a conservation camp where the elephants are looked after very well, they are fed a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise. The leaders each have an elephant to look after and use their voices and legs to instruct the elephants. They do carry a stick in case anything where to happen, but our leader didn’t have to use his.
This is our 35 year old elephant Dok Bua, which means ‘Lotus’
Our guide had alright English, so small talk was possible, we found out that he and Dok Bua have been buddies for 15 years and that he has been riding elephants since he was 5 years old!
We trekked for around half an hour until we reached a waterfall and turned around. The scenery was beautful, the property was surrounded by rubber trees that are harvested at night to produce latex. On our way back our guide asked if I wanted to sit on Dok Bua’s neck and lead her to the water hole. This was so much fun! I was a little nervous at first because you can feel every muscle move in her neck with every step.
When we got to the watering hole we got off Dok Bua and she ran straight into the water. We got into our bathers and jumped in after her. What an experience!!
Getting on her back we scrubbed her head and neck, were splashed at and sprayed at, our guide would make verbal commands and Dok Bua would roll over in the water. Tim always seemed to struggle to hold on when she did this and in the end after managing not to fall off our guide said a command so that Dok Bua grabbed my leg and gently pulled me off.
We can honestly say that this is one of the most amazing things we have ever done.