Day 7 of the Golden Triangle Tour is a non-riding rest day at the Sib-San Resort. With the unseasonal cold and wet weather still upon us, the rest day came at a good time, avoiding another cold and wet riding day. But it also means that there is little to do around the hotel, except to sit out the weather.
We heard reports that parts of Thailand got snow overnight – the first time in recorded history.
Included in our tour was a one-hour elephant ride at the next-door facility – the Mae Taeng Elephant Park. It had rained constantly overnight, and was still raining at breakfast, so I opted out of the elephant ride. I did not want to get wet again today, so I stayed in my hotel room.
Having spoken with the guys who did attend, I’m glad that I opted out. In addition to the ride, there was an elephant show that included a painting elephant. I’ve read about the cruel treatment that can be meted out to elephants to get them to repeatedly paint the same image, so I have concerns about whether the Mae Taeng Elephant Park treats its elephants ethically. The fact that it includes an elephant show as well as tourist rides, suggests that it may not. The guys also saw mahouts striking the elephants with sticks. I have since looked at reviews on Trip Advisor, and people report seeing inappropriate treatment of elephants at the facility.
Here is a link to a report by Ears Asia on Elephant Tourism
This linked article exposes the cruel treatment that, according to the author, is subjected to almost all elephants used in Thailand’s elephant tourism facilities.
Here is a linked comment from Responsibletravel.com that suggests that all captive elephants are subjected to cruel treatment to get them to perform (including giving rides).
As animal lovers, it is easy to get sucked into tourist attractions that get us close to animals that we’d like to learn more about. Unfortunately, in some cases, the money that we pay to visit such attractions contributes to the ongoing unethical treatment of the animals. Fortunately, there are now some elephant sanctuaries that allow visitors to observe the elephants in a more natural environment, whilst avoiding using the animals for unnatural performances such as giving rides and performing tricks. If we, as tourists, spend our money with the ethical companies, instead of those who are exploiting the animals, we may help to bring about change in the way the animals are treated.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, I’m browsing the web and playing computer games to pass away the hours on a cold day. There is no heating available in the room, so I’m wearing lots of clothes.
The forecast shows that the weather will break tomorrow, when we are due to resume our riding. Let’s hope that the forecast is correct! But with a 6 degree night ahead of us, I’ll be wearing clothes to bed again.