Christmas in Phuket is interesting, because the Thai people do not celebrate Christmas. Thailand is 85% Buddhist and 14% Muslim, so Christmas Day is just another work day, but, with many foreigners visiting for the holidays, many hotels display decorated Christmas trees and several stores sell minimal decorations and treats. We were able to find a real, wonderful smelling Christmas tree for sale – all the way from Canada, and brought it home to decorate with tinsel garlands and colorful balls.
Four days after Christmas, our beautiful Jude turned 21, and knowing that she has an intense love for elephants, we scheduled an afternoon with the gentle Asian giants. The place we enjoy going to, is the Phuket Elephant Retirement Park, where worked and abused elephants are brought to safety, roam free unless being medically treated, and spend their days eating, playing, taking mud baths, chunky dunking in the water hole, and sleeping. None of them are chained, beaten or ridden, like so many others are in Thailand.
Jude fed a baby a bottle of soy milk. It guzzled it down in seconds.
It was clear to see that the young elephants were quite a handful, as they played and wrestled with each other, and only listened to the staff when they felt like it.
The two youngest, who were 18 months and two years old, took turns splashing around in a big tub. At times they both tried to fit in at the same time, at which point one would squeal and chase the other out.
We helped prepare food for the elephants, by washing cucumbers, while others husked corn and chopped sugar cane.
I love hairy little elephant tails!
The elephants only sleep for 4 hours a day, and the other 20 hours are spent eating, bathing, rolling in dirt, eating, throwing dirt all over, eating, playing and eating.
Our favorite part is playing in the mud with the elephants…and each other. I didn’t want to risk slipping and hurting my back, so this time I had a blast and a half standing on the sidelines and taking photos of the mud fight.
Aidan decided to tackle Jude, but they both went down together!
There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh mud!
It didn’t take long before Danny and our friend, Jack, got in on it, and it all went down hill from there!
Our family was covered from head to toe…
So much fun!
The elephants LOVE the mud!
Just when I thought these goof balls were done… I realized they weren’t…
So much fun in the warm mud!
The elephants (and family) were then led to the waterhole, where they massaged the pachyderm backs with brushes.
One in particular enjoyed filling its trunk with water and spraying everyone.
Once they were nice and clean, some of them snuck off to roll in the dirt…
The creatures had a blast!
What an amazing day.
Happy Birthday Jude.