A different side of the world

Imagine this, if you will, a night that never ends. You step aboard an airplane and rise into a sunset sky, majestic reds and yellows light up the Cascade and Olympic mountains of Washington state, signaling a new adventure and another chapter of, what is quickly becoming, an interesting life. Got that image? DSC_1448 Awesome. Now plunge it into a night so dark and so ominous that all concept of time is shattered. Stomped out by an angry child who didn't get their way and, just to be spiteful, took those pieces and threw them into the ocean. Sprinkle in a touch of Mandarin, Cantonese and what I can only assume was Korean. Let that simmer for 13 hours, quickly brush the dish with a bizarre experience in Beijing, allow to rest for 6 more hours and then promptly transfer the whole concoction into Bangkok. Smell that rich aroma? That lovely blend of cultures? Yes, my friend, you have made it into Thailand! Time changes are a mind boggling thing. I flew from Seattle at 2pm on a Friday, arrived in Bangkok on Sunday at 2am. But only flew for a total of 19 hours, yet when I got there it was roughly 2pm of the previous day back in America. Which roughly translates to “Yep, I'm literally from the future.”. Awesome.

Thailand is not a country that you here about often. Which is strange, because it's one of the fastest growing economies in the world, particularly in Southeast Asia and the people are truly friendly. Even in Bangkok, a city that puts New York to shame for ridiculous drivers and an 'in-your-face lifestyle', people will stop and ask how you are. A smile and a 'wai', which is somewhat akin to a handshake and a bow, instantly gets you a welcoming smile back and a warm greeting. The Thais are very polite and place extreme emphasis on courteousness and appearance. For those of you who know me well, appearance is not always a strong point of mine (though I've very quickly learned to brush my hair in the morning)!!

She's seen a harsh world. Fought in WWII and still manages to be gentle.

The past week has been a bit of a blur of activity. Bangkok was enjoyable, but once you're out of the city, you see Thailand as it really is.I've seen parts of Thailand that aren't in brochures and aspects of it that are amazing and have made me cry with both joy and sadness. Some of the rural areas look truly difficult to stay in. Homes are little more then four bamboo posts with corrugated tin roofs. But still, the Thai people are wonderfully happy and consistently smile. They are simply glad for life, more on that later, but sometimes it's the things that can't help themselves that need help the most. So for the first part of this blog, I'm going to ask for a small donation.

During the course of last week, I visited an elephant reserve through the company I work for. Elephants are AWESOME. We went to a pineapple plantation (also amazing),

We collected pineapples for the elephants and threw them into our truck.

and collected 126kg of pineapples, tossed them onto a truck and proceeded to feed the elephants the pineapples. Elephants are surprisingly gentle when they take things from you.

A blind elephant crushes a pineapple so she can suck the juices with her trunk.

But here's the rub. There's 8 elephants currently at the reserve, but only three have homes that can protect their skin from the strong sun in Thailand. Others have ropes stretched across their encampment, but that really does nothing to protect them from the UV rays. It costs approximately $2000 to buy one elephant a home that will protect them properly. These are peaceful creatures that have seen horrible things. One is blind from mistreatment, another was forced to fight in WWII and clear sections of a railroad with prisoners of war during that conflict. Another had its growth stunted and barely reaches above my head.

Got a hug from an elephant. My life is just a little bit more complete

Her growth has been stunted from mistreatment and malnourishment. She's a full grown elephant that barely reaches our heads.

Yet the handler is trying incredibly hard to provide for them, unfortunately the exposure to the world is limited as the preserve doesn't have a website and most Thai simply don't have the money to spare, despite how much the preserve is respected.

So here's what I'm asking for. $5 or $10 dollars is a lot in Thailand. I have a home here for little over $75 dollars a month, if that is an indication of how far the US dollar goes here. $3 dollars feeds me for a day, $1 dollar can easily buy cat or dog food. If you can spare it, go without a Starbucks double latte frappe with espresso shots for a day and donate instead, it would go a long way towards caring for these elephants.

An elephant whose growth has been stunted, has been trained to play harmonica in attempts to get donations to the preserve.

Don't like elephants? I can talk even more about the amount of stray dogs and cats here that are in horrible condition. They need just as much help. Xplore Asia also runs a dog and cat shelter that could also use the help. Like I said, $1 can buy a dog or cat food for a week or more. $5 can potentially give them veterinarian attention that they critically need.  It won't go to a corrupt government, it won't go to nameless person, it will go directly from my hands to the people running the shelters. It WILL make a difference.Tug your own heartstrings and click this button.

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