Global Service Scholar: Irene Sin
Country: Thailand

Tata eating

From Monday through Friday, I live at the Maetaman Elephant Camp in Mae Rim, Thailand. A typical day starts at 5:30 a.m. for me. However, on Mondays, we do not arrive at the elephant camp until around 11 a.m. When we get there, we unpack our things in our rooms. I have a single room with a private bathroom. Then we leave to make vitamins. Starting on Tuesdays, I walk to my assigned elephant, Tata, in the morning and meet my mahout (an elephant trainer) Pat. I help clean up Tata’s stall by picking up her feces and sweeping away old food, dirt, and other dirty items. After that comes the morning bath. We go to the river and I help Pat bathe Tata by splashing water all over her and scrubbing her body with a brush. After the bath, we go on a short walk around the camp and village before Tata returns to her stall. There, Tata is given food before she and Pat go to work giving rides to tourists all day.

After the morning bath is over, I take a shower and then go to the village to buy some bananas for Tata. At 9 a.m., I meet with the other volunteers and we peel potatoes near the kitchen area, then we go help sell the elephant paintings at the elephant show. At 11 a.m., we make vitamin balls for the elephants and sweep more of the stall areas. After we finish making the vitamins and feeding them to the elephants, we have lunch, and then we have a break before the afternoon bath. During this break, we have done many activities spread out through the three weeks. We have visited the nearby hill tribe, cut down banana trees as treats for our elephants, gone bamboo rafting, and even zip lining.

When it is 3:30 p.m., I begin the walk back to Tata’s stall and meet with Pat to care for Tata. If I have any leftover bananas from what I purchased earlier, I feed them to Chan Tai (Tata’s child) and Tata. I pick up any feces that I see in her stall and sweep her entire stall area. Then we go to the river again for the afternoon bath at 4:00 p.m. After the afternoon bath, I take another shower, and then we have dinner at 6 p.m. At lunch, we eat from the lunch buffet that the tourists eat from, but during dinner we can choose from a menu. My personal favorite dish is the pad see ew. After dinner, sometimes the volunteers will meet together and play cards or watch movies for a few hours before going to bed.

On Fridays, we leave the camp a little earlier to return back to Chiang Mai where the other volunteers are staying. During the weekend, we meet up and explore the city and other areas. We have done tours to see local temples, tried out different restaurants, gotten Thai massages, and visited the Saturday Night Market, the Sunday Night Market, and the Night Bazaar.