Shot in March at the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation, wearing head to toe Zara.
Since we are already past ice breakers, I thought I might share one of the most unforgettable experiences I had in Hua Hin as a kick-start. My dad and I needed a short getaway and Thailand is always the best option, and while Bangkok had always been top of the list for me, we decided to do some exploring, and enjoy some father and daughter time together. So once we arrived at Bangkok's international airport, we hopped on a bus that would take us to one of Thailand's favourite beach destinations. It will filled with tourists and I was shocked to see that all the Thai locals I met were in the service industry. Hua Hin lives and breathes on Tourism alone and it's obvious. The beaches are beautiful but I got tired of it all just after a day. So I suggested a day with the elephants at Hutsadin. It is no secret that elephants are beautiful, majestic creatures. And despite it being Thailand's favourite and sacred animal, it's hard to believe they are also the most commonly abandoned animals in the country. This is due to how expensive it is to care for and feed these creatures. I went to Hutsadin with no expectations, simply expecting maybe a little tour and the usual elephant ride but we were greeted by lovely volunteers who warmingly showed us around the foundation, introduced us personally to each and every one of their babies and gave us abit of background on how to care for the elephants and the people that run the foundation. It wasn't surprising that many of these volunteers were caucasian who came from all walks of life, probably coming to Hua Hin for a retreat and then finding themselves at Hutsadin. It wasn't uncommon so language wasn't a barrier that morning.
I was lucky to be able to spend time with Song Khran, the youngest of Hutsadin's 6 elephants and followed him, his trainer and a fellow volunteer to take a walk. Hutsadin is one of those places which provides a lot of space for their elephants which is great and I immediately felt like I was in another world, kind of just like walking on safari. Song Khran was a darling, we got to feed him, he showed us a few of his tricks and just overall learnt so much about him and his personality. I politely asked his trainer if I could have some photos taken with him and he immediately made me sit on him. Oh god, can't tell you how crazy it felt to actually be on an elephant, with no chairs, no rope but just grasping tightly to his hair for support. It was one hell of a ride but one that I would never forget because this big baby sure did warm my heart. My dad and I got our mini elephant show where Song Khran performed for us, and sat on one of the oldest elephants they had through the little 'forest' which the foundation is built on. It definitely was different from the countless of elephant rides I've had growing up as a kid and frequently visiting Thailand. Hua Hin might be a tourism board's dream come true and the perfect beach destination filled with luxurious resorts and perfect blue seas but Hutsadin was what made it for me. We were thrown into an old van to head back to Bangkok and ended up stuck in traffic for nearly 6 hours but my experience at Hutsadin and thinking how surreal it was kept me through.
The elephants need us and Hutsadin is all they have got for now, if you would like to learn more about the foundation, please visit their website here
. It's crazy how expensive it costs to care for an elephant each year. The food is one thing but each elephant drinks about 150 litres of water and showers about 5 times daily. Mutiply this by 6! And during the dry season, trucks are needed to carry the water for the elephants in the foundation. Hutsadin is a non-profit organization and everything goes to the elephants and their mahouts (their personal care-taker). If you are ever in Hua Hin, get your driver to take you to this magical place and let your heart be warmed by their hospitality and these loving creatures. You can even do the Mahout experience which is probably the only reason I feel I have to come back to Hua Hin for. For 1000 baht, you get a very up close and personal, hands-on approach to what it takes to care for the elephants day to day from taking them to walks, giving them their baths, preparing their food and feeding them. Genuinely, Hutsadin is worth it. And so are these beautiful creatures.