Aside from the overall cultural experience and the food, this was my favorite part of the entire trip. It has always been a dream of mine to ride elephants- check that one off the bucket list! My grandmother has the largest collection of elephants paintings, statues, figurings, etc., trust me, her house is an elephant shrine. Of course my love for elephants started from her influence, but really its their symbolic meaning: power, strength, honor, and patience. Also, in Asian culture they are a sign of good luck- not a bad animal to have an obsession with! By the looks of these photos, I clearly did not enjoy myself….(haha).
As an animal lover, I am all for animal rights and speaking out for those who have no voice. I’m strongly against zoos and any form of animal captivity. Exotic animals should not be taken from their homes and be placed inside boxes for peoples pleasure. It’s cruel and beyond sad. IF YOU WANT TO SEE THESE ANIMALS SO BAD, SAVE SOME MONEY AND GO SEE THEM IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT! The biggest reason why I was so excited to be in the jungles of Chiang Mai, was because I am visiting the elephants home. It was only fitting to spend an entire day with them. I did my research and came across a few places that treated their elephants well, rescued them, didn’t put seats on them, etc. etc. etc. Thai Elephant Home was one of my top choices, and the group I was with made the executive decision because they were the only elephant home that had a baby elephant; his name was Sunday and I’ll forgive miss him! 1 month old and already 400lbs of energy. He was adorable, thinking he was a lot smaller than he really was, crawling all over everyones laps. Seriously the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!!
The first part of the day we got to spend time on one of their properties, where the baby was living. This was where we got to feed them, walk with them and bath them. I couldn’t resist and grabbed the biggest basket of bananas and went up to the largest elephant there. She was BEAUTIFUL and basically ate my entire basket in one bite! Bathing them was my favorite part, I had no hesitations jumping in and rolling around the muddy water with these elephants. Sad to leave the baby behind, but we headed to the next property, four wheel driving in the jungle, laughing as I bounced around in the back seat the entire time. The next property was amazing seeing all the large elephants just wandering around and walking towards you to greet you…but really they were hoping and thinking we had treats for them. This was where we got to ride the elephants, and I won’t lie, I am extremely scared of heights. I didn’t even think about my fear, until I was already on top of the elephant and had one of those, “OH SHIT!” moments. My heart stopped for a moment as she stood back up from the ground. It took me a few big steps of hers until I got comfortable, so much so, that the trainers were laughing at me while I was laying across her back rather than just sitting on her. The riding part was fun, but playing in the water with the elephants really was the best part. They would splash water on you, roll around and make happy loud sounds. I’m reliving the moment right now typing this wishing I was back in the jungle!! Honestly, if ever you find yourself in Chiang Mia, Thailand, I highly recommend staying in the jungle rather than the city. The jungle is unique and the wild life is truly insane to see, something I know you would never regret experiencing.
Phuket made me feel like I was in Cabo, Mexico on Squid Row or at my favorite nightclub in Las Vegas when I was closer to the shoreline, but deeper inside the jungle I quickly remembered I was in Thailand. Honestly, at night I forgot I was even in Thailand because the nightclubs were amazing!! Diplo and Rehab have residencies at these clubs in Thailand…no joke if you can’t find me, I’ll be dancing backstage at Diplo in Thailand haha…but seriously!! IT WAS INSANE, Thai people know how to party…oh and be careful ordering a Vodka Red Bull. The Red Bulls out there were no joke…
Aside form my party habits, I was still excited to explore Phuket and see what historical treasures it held. To no surprises, there were hundreds of temples, like in Bangkok, full of color and fine details. The most unique thing in Phuket was the “Big Buddha” hidden high up on the tallest mountain over looking all of Phuket. Different from the majority I had seen thus far, it was in stone rather than gold. The inside of the Big Buddha was being restored and you buy a little title to write a blessing on for good luck. Of course, I had to do this, so hopefully 2017 will be a lucky year! I’ve got nothing to lose!
Hands down, the most unique island of them all. Infested with young tourist wanting to rave all night long, drinking alcohol out of buckets, and passing out on the beach. Not a bad place to wake up with a hangover. It’s the most unique island because of the tide that comes in and out of the cove. The water never goes higher than your waist line and at night you can walk out for miles before even hitting the water at your ankles. It was fun at night dancing far away from the shore on your own private mini sand island. The little dancer in me could have easily stayed a few more nights here…
Incase you missed it on my instagram, here are some little shots I took on my iPhone while exploring Thailand… Starting with the temples in Bangkok, to the jungle of Chiang Mai, to the colorful fish and waters on the islands outside of Phuket, to the iconic boats and purple sunsets of Koi Phi Phi and ending at the relaxing resort in Koi Samui.
Paulina Perrucci is a Luxury Destination Wedding Photographer Serving California, Europe, Mexico, the caribbean, and Available for Travel WorldwidE
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