In Chiang Mai Thailand

Dec 1st, 2014, 03:27 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 244
Ok I understand.But, if u chg your mind Im in BKK.In and out for 3 months staying near Nana sky train
zoso is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 04:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 7
After reading all comments concerning elephants used for tourism, I' was relieved to read the comments by khunwilko and Zozo. People make excuses to suit their own needs with little regard for the problem. Thank you both for bringing the truth to this forum.
Vquest is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 09:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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renting an apartment in a 3rd world country is rife with situations like you are experiencing..

I would move to an hotel for the night.
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 03:58 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Yes, I totally agree also with khunwilko and Zozo. We need to continue to be the elephant's voice, as his is clearly misunderstood as "it's fine to torture me and then abuse me so humans can make a living".

I can see lauren's points that in order to effectively deal with elephant abuse we need to understand Thai culture, and we should also recognize the fact that our own factory farming and support of the circus is horrible.

Yes, the Sunday night bizarre is something I can definitely revisit - have fun!
Cattail is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 09:55 PM
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Lauren - although you undoubtedly have shown more than a passing interest in all things Thai and have obviously asked a lot of questions, you seem to be filtering the information you get in a way that justifies or reinforces the way you want it to be or to justify the things you have done; you even seem to be making up statements as if they are facts because they support what you want to think.

To start with, I’d like to consider those people you refer to as “mahouts” because if you look carefully you’ll see that they don’t really deserve that accolade....

“A mahout is a person who rides an elephant. The word mahout comes from the Hindi words mahaut (महौत) and mahavat (महावत), which eventually goes back to Sanskrit mahamatra (महामात्र). Usually, a mahout starts as a boy in the 'family profession' when he is assigned an elephant early in its life. They remain bonded to each other throughout their lives.” - wiki.

The most common tools used by mahouts are chains and the Aṅkuśa (or ankus, anlius) [in Thailand “takaw”] –a sharp metal hook used in the training and handling of the elephant by stabbing the elephant in the head, and in areas like the mouth and inner ear, where the animal is most sensitive.

The various people who work with elephants most can lay claim to little more than “having worked with elephants” - unfortunately a lot of them who, as you point out are very poorly educated, are “trained” by those exploiting the elephants in the first place. The only knowledge they have of animal welfare or care of elephants comes from the very people who may well be exploiting them.

You are also right about remuneration but I have to question your conclusions - Those working with the elephants get next to nothing - they are being exploited too - you need to look at the background of the local “hill tribes” to get an idea...... In fact the exploitation of the Hill tribes by Thailand since the war is to some a matter of national shame. These people who number about 7 different ethnic groups with various sub-divisions have been systematically marginalized and mistreated by successive governments.

The tribes were largely nomadic surviving on a slash and burn subsistence level - but due to their nomadic nature they never really became registered as citizens of any particular country.
As borders have become more and more important these “stateless” folk have become a thorn in the side for some authorities and even considered a threat. During the Vietnam war, various sides especially the US recruited people from these tribes to fight “communism” - basically scaring or bribing people who knew little or nothing that took place outside their extended family or village. The aftermath has led them to be persecuted by various governments in all the countries in the region.

Many have become refugees or compulsorily re-settled in areas and life-styles quite alien to them.

In some parts though their fate has become similar to that of the elephant.... they have become a “valuable’ tourist recent years evidence has emerged that some local Thai authorities have been delaying the resettlement of these people in other countries. They have qualified for placement in such countries as the US or Australia but the local Thais have either tried to prevent it or delay it fearing the loss of income to themselves.

The result is that they are more or less imprisoned in areas around the Thai borders and are unable to live as they used to OR to earn a living for themselves, becoming little more that “surfs” to the local fiefdoms.

As for the elephant parks/zoos/”conservation” establishments, they are of course delighted to hire these people for next to nothing - then train them or “brainwash” them to treat the elephants in the way that the owners require - use of the Takaw included. - This hook can be used to control the elephant by hooking onto sensitive parts around the head - ears, eyes, mouth etc.

Most mahouts are NOT properly trained and are usually ignorant of modern scientific information about elephants, they know little about traditional methods as well. They get the work but have no workers rights. Some don’t even have legal identity papers - like the Burmese on Koh Tao they often have to pay money to local police or other “nabobs” to get the work and avoid being sent “back” into a state of limbo between Thailand and the Myanmar army.

Many of the hill tribe people are refugees - in their own “country” -

“It is so strict to live here. There is nothing to do. I am not allowed to go outside the camp. There is no job, no work. So much stress and depression. I feel that I am going to go crazy here.” (Burmese refugee, Nu Po camp, Tak province, January 2012; Human Rights Watch, 2012e, p. 18)”

Their villages are under built, have poor infrastructure, sanitation etc. and are rife with tropical disease such as dengue.
People live here for decades - they are born and die in these places...... due to the “shanty” nature of the buildings there is great risk to health and safety - fires are all too frequent. - Around 40 people died in a fire at a Mae Hong Son refugee camp last year

I also have to pull you up on a few more “assumptions” you have made - (for someone who doesn’t want to get into a debate about wildlife you certainly make enough provocative statements that would suggest otherwise....)

“I do wish that there was a way to just let elephants live in the wild here but there really isn't; there are just so many of them. Remember they have, in the past, been the tractors of SE Asia.”

Repeating this sentiment won’t make it correct!

This statement is really quite ill-formed and way off the mark - firstly there ARE ways elephants can live in the wild - there are populations of them there already and there is room for more - the poaching and encroachment needs to be tackled - there are several organisations - as I said before that are doing this - there are also organisations setting reserves as well.

“There is a lot of habitat devastation from farming” - No not really......
Your statement “. They practice slash and burn farming here which is long term devastating to the environment” is actually incorrect....Thailand does not engage in slash and burn, it is illegal. However you might be confusing this with the hill-tribes whose semi-nomadic existence does involve slash and burn - this has been largely halted as they are no longer free to also was on a relatively small scale.

The other major threat to elephants in Thailand that you seem to ignore is of course the ivory trade - which is LEGALISED in Thailand. There are some restrictions on what ivory can be used but in reality this has never been effectively enforced. Thailand is currently in breach of its agreement under the CITES treaty in this respect.

I find your theories of population increase and the effect they have on wildlife frankly risible. In reality the populations of all countries are on the increase - in Thailand this is accompanied by urbanization which means people are actually LEAVING the countryside and heading for the towns and cities.

Encroachment comes from industrialised farming methods which enable vast tracts of forest to be cleared very quickly (this is illegal in Thailand) and encroachment by the tourist trade and dam building both of which made artificial inroads into wild areas - sadly this sort of thing is financed and encouraged by the wealthy ruling elite who “band” the laws to get their way. Areas such as National
Parks, which should be sacrosanct, are in fact often under threat in Thailand due to corruption. The parks themselves are also invaded by poachers - however the areas left are large enough to contain large populations of keystone species in sustainable bio systems.

As for “we in the West” - a lot of the science may originate from “westerners” - including Darwin and Alfred Wallace, but of course Wallace found his reasoning for evolution in S.E. Asia - in particular the Malaysia/Indonesia peninsular. Perhaps this gives some idea of how incredibly important this region is for wildlife.

Nowadays in Thailand most of the conservation work here is carried out by Thai people.. The country has it’s own well informed and successful conservationists........ for instance such people as Sasin Chalermlarp, chief of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation; this lot run a major wildlife sanctuary which contains one of the last tiger populations in Thailand and they are currently involved in researching the elephant population on the Thai/Myanmar’s borders.
Foreign organisations that work abroad now know well how to co-operate with Thai organisations and work with local people from the humble subsistence farmer all the way up through poachers to military generals to help create a sustainable environment.

As the wealth in Thailand is not well distributed and public awareness of wildlife issues is low - it is quite natural that money and aid also comes form out side the country. The wildlife of Thailand is not simply a Thai affair it is a concern for everyone on the planet. It is not surprising either that wealthy, well educated countries like America and UK have led the way in the science of conservation and are happy to share this knowledge with the rest of the world. ....... nothing “high-horse” about that.

“the problem will only get worse” - this kind of statement seems to me to be one made by someone with little real knowledge of the topic but who has a determination to give the impression that they do. What is you your evidence for this and how does this actually fit in to the discussion? Are you suggesting as the problem is insolvable we should just let it run its course and do whatever we like?

In west we are “To quick to criticise? I’m not criticising Thailand in particular, I’m primarily criticising those from the WEST!!! - Those who come to Thailand and are prepared without thinking, to exploit and damage the country’s fragile natural resources for their own personal pleasure.

Apart form that my relationship with Thailand wildlife - dates back to 1980s - and as someone who has lived and worked with Thai business and government for 12 years now, any criticisms ii may have, have not come quickly - I can assure you. However I DO feel that with a limited experience of the country, some people are FAR too quick to jump to erroneous conclusions., don’t you? - (BTW - life expectancy in Thailand is about 75 overall as opposed to 80 in the US - but the US age is dropping whilst Thailand’s is till on the up!)

“you hardly see any old people here” - OK that is a sign of either you are going round with your eyes closed or you have a different concept of old from myself......actually it’s just daft. Developing countries do in fact tend to have a demographic that learns towards higher proportions of young people , but Thailand contrary to popular concepts is NOT a “3rd world” country and is actually pretty much developed - they are beginning to face the same “pensioner demographic” problems that we have in the west. Again a little research before you made such a sweeping comment would have prevented you from making this inaccurate pronouncement.

I’m sorry to have to post this, but despite your obvious interest in Thailand I fear you are getting the wrong end of the stick on far too many aspects to just leave this unchallenged.
khunwilko is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 01:03 AM
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No, you aren't sorry to post this. You just want everyone to agree with you. So where would the uneducated hill tribesmen work if not in the elephant camps. There are not a lot of jobs for them. There are a lot of projects to improve their lives. How much they improve things remains to be seen.

I took a food tour one night in Chiang Mai and asked my guide about the hill tribe job situation. He told me that he was Karen. While hill tribes do face discrimination, he told me that once the people get an education, they are treated well. He is after all an English speaking tour guide--which is considered a good job here.

All countries face questions about how they treat minority groups. Whether you call the men working in the elephant camps "mahouts" or "elephant camp workers" is, by the way, hairsplitting.

I am just a tad more concerned about people than elephants. There was a lecture in Chiang Mai a few weeks back. While I didn't go, I met someone who had. The lecturer said the same things I am saying: Elephant tourism helps keep elephants alive.

Thailand has a huge gap between the rich and the people who live a subsistence lifestyle (not from choice). I wouldn't call it "developed" in a western sense. It is better off than some other countries in the region but with a lot of economic/political problems that inhibit development.

And my eyes are wide open. Yours are closed--with your mind made up you just fit the facts to a scenario that fits the end you want.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 03:59 AM
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"I am just a tad more concerned about people than elephants"

Just a tad....
Cattail is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 06:55 AM
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Well I would not wish that on anyone kmkrnn but I am sick of his turning every thread into an elephant abuse diatribe. There is simply not enough space in elephant rescue parks to save all the elephants kmkrnn thinks should be rescued. If elephant tourism were to be ended, there needs to be a financial alternative that makes sense--and what he offers just does not.

Tomorrow I am going off to lunch and then hopefully picking up my visa for Burma which sort of got messed up.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 07:33 AM
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BTW - if you want to see how a baby elephant is prepared for the tourist industry, check out this site.
khunwilko is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 05:45 PM
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"We support the current elephant situation as it is" - Really??

The plight of the elephant is not limited to is of international scale and concern.
The video below illustrates some of the aspects of this.

if you don't have time to watch it just view the last half, as it deals in particular with the impact that tourism in Thailand is having on the wild elephant population, in particular the smuggling and abuse of baby elephants.
khunwilko is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 05:47 PM
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PS - the Thai section starts at point 19.45 on the video
khunwilko is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2014, 05:57 PM
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Thanks khun. Awful beyond words. Keep speaking out.
Cattail is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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" If elephant tourism were to be ended, there needs to be a financial alternative that makes sense" - you seem to miss the point here - "elephant tourism" of the sort that is prevalent in Thailand is exacerbating the situation. As pointed out in the posts above.
khunwilko is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 244
OMG You don't get the POINT Lauren ugh, Elephants are forced bred! GET IT ? They keep producing more for the tourist trade.
Thank God Prince William is speaking out today in NYC re, China and Ivory trade.
One Elephant killed every 15 min. That includes Asia!

zoso is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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Lauren.. FYI, the post office in bkk will do a fab job packing your stuff for very little money, I suspect they will in CM also..

FYI-- kmkrnn is not concerned with either the current elephant or tiger treatment in Thailand

kmkrnn is offline  
Dec 9th, 2014, 07:07 AM
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I already had a trip to the post office in Chiang Mai and sent a lot of stuff home--enduring a power outage in the middle of the trip.

You can read all about it on my blog:

I think I spent 1 1/2 hours in the Post Office to get it done due to the power outage. They were very helpful.

Today I visited The Night Bazaar. I liked Sunday Walking Street best but the real superstar was the handicraft fair on Niemmanhamen Soi 1 which ends tomorrow. Really great stuff there. They apparently do it every year at the same time.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Dec 9th, 2014, 06:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 271
While in CM, try the Art in Paradise museum. It is a fabulous fun optical illusion museum, and I haven't seen one like it. Also we like the food at the night market area called Ausarn market. They are several food vendors selling cook to order food. It is good, cheap ( mostly 30-50 baht) and we have never gotten sick eating there. Don't forget to try the fish spa.
stitchintime is offline  
Dec 9th, 2014, 07:58 PM
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I have seen the fish spa before in places. I had a Thai massage at the beginning of my trip. Since I have back "issues", I like the regular Thai massage. I just wish they had it (for the same price) back in the US. Today I am planning on going to an evening at someone's house where everyone brings snacks and watches a ballet on a large screen TV--intellectual entertainment for farangs.

My holiday has settled into lethargy as I have largely finished with all the tourist stuff--and shopping.

On Niemmanhamen, I am staying in a condo on Soi 8. There are some good Burmese restaurants on Soi 8. The one at the corner makes the best fried chicken I have ever eaten for pennies. If we could only get that chicken in the US, Kentucky Fried would go out of business.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 12:27 PM
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Following along on another of your adventures Lauren. We were in SeAsia a few years ago and are eager to return.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Dec 11th, 2014, 05:00 PM
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Thanks for the positive post HappyTrvlr. I went to The Night Safari last night. So nice to see a positive post instead of another diatribe in Elephant Wars.

I go to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) next week. Stay tuned. Another AlteCocker trip full of ups and downs with a side of elephants.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  

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