I've been at the wildlife center almost a week, and I really feel as though I've settled in now. It actually feels as though I've been here ages, because the days are so long... I bet none of you can believe I manage to get up at 5.45 and start work at 6.15 every morning!!!!! Mind you, the 18 dogs barking howling at every vehicle that goes past and the gibbons calling throughout the night make sure you don't oversleep anyway!!!!
It is a great experience here, I've seen so much and done so much already that I will remember forever...like walking the baby elephant (3 years old) into the forest each day and sitting and watching her wander in amongst the trees and eating bamboo. And the elephant night safari.
The facilities at the center are really basic, just a show hose and a western toliet (no flush) toilet in the en-suite, and snails and lizards in the damp bedroom. And you are dirty and smell of elephant's all the time! I never thought I could cope in a place like that (and some of you would agree!) but it's all part of the experience.
The baby elephant (Soy Tong) is so playful, she is the equivalent of a toddler really, but she just doesn't realise how strong she is, so you do have to keep an eye on her, otherwise she can run and bump into you and knock you to the ground!!! Her favourite toy is a car tyre which she likes you to roll to her and she kicks it, rolls around on it, or picks it up, throws it in the air and kneels down to catch it on her shoulders like a football!! It's sooo cute! But you do have to watch where the tyre is flying! She also like to wrap her trunk round you and try to pull you over, or grab your hand with her trunk as you are walking away and not let you go!!! Yesterday when I was raking her enclosure she came and put her trunk in all the leaves I had just cleared and pulled them all out and threw them over herself, so I pulled the basket away to where I thought she couldn't reach it, but she managed to reach it with the end of her trunk, so we ended up having a tug of war! Then she realised I had put the rake down, so she grabbed that and stamped on it and snapped the handle in half!! I will have so many memories and stories about her by the time I leave.
The other elephants are great too. Pai Lin is the old lady, she is 60, very wrinkled and really calm and graceful. The other three girls are between 30 and 40, and have their distinct characters too, two of them are very greedy, but Nam Phon is much more relaced and jsut waits her turn...she looks half asleep most of the time. It's amazing being so close to such huge animals, but you do feel safe with them, they are so lovely. Yes Lee, I think they do like me because I wave my arms around so much when I talk....I think we have a connection, because of that and my wide hips!!!! I'm going to collect more sugar cane for the elephants tomorrow, which is an experience, but such hard work!!! The best bit is riding back from the fields in the back of the pick-up on top of a full load of sugar cane, it's a great view from up there. When you get back to the center and they drive the truck to the bottom of the elephant enclosure all the elephants chase the truck because they are so excited and make some really cute trumpeting and squeeky noises...It's so sweet to see!
Oh yeah, and clearing the elephant poo from the pond is an experience in itself, one of us gets in the row boat and uses a plastic rake to paddle along to the lumps of poo and then scoop them into the boat with the rake, while the other stands on the edge to direct you...it's sooo dignified!!!!!
It's been really hot and humid since I got here, but it's a bit cooler right now, because we have just had a big storm. It absolutely pi**ed it down, and caused a bit of damage around the center with fallen branches and small trees. It was quite exciting to watch, but I hope it doesn't happen too often! It's the first time it's rained since I got here though so i've done pretty well.
Anyway, I had better go....I've so much more to tell you, but I'm babbling now (as usual)!!!
Thanks to everyone for your messages, It's really nice to read them, please keep them coming!!!