Back at Thom’s Elephant Camp!

(Overdue post)

“So it must be pretty special, to have to return somewhere for the second time after a short period of time.”

& it was because I was so emotionally connected to the elephants (rather one elephant in particular) and the people there are just so full of warmth and friendliness.

When I went back, things were a li’l different cause there was a shuffle of manpower and a few of them I knew weren’t around. Sad, but it didn’t matter much cause ultimately I was back for Ot!

Always-happy-not-so-little Ot!
Always-happy-not-so-little Ot!

Saw her in the morning and this li’l sweetheart dropped her grass that she was munching on and gave me a li’l trunk-hug when I approached her. AWWW. It’s really nice to think that she remembers people and that she’s so sociable and affectionate.

Photo-post for this update!

But before that, I must say that my volunteering stint shortened to a week due to unforseen circumstances. I stayed from 1 July 2015 to 6 July 2015.

So when I came back from Laos, I did the math and counted the date that I had to leave Thailand cause my 30-day holiday visa would expire on 12 July – a day before my 2-week stint would end.

I had it all planned in my head where I would make a visa run (I saw agencies offering that service in Pai) during my second week stay and that would solve my problem.

2 July 2015, Thursday 

Cycled a freaking 7km uphill-downhill route from the camp to town for fun and to check it out. (PRETTY BAD MOVE CONSIDERING I WAS STILL HEALING FROM MY SWOLLEN INFECTED MOSQUITO BITES AND MY STAMINA WAS SHIT)

Approached the travel agencies and none of them did visa runs anymore! I was told I needed to go to Chiang Mai to do it. It was too much hassle/ unnecessary money involved for me! I had no idea that the government clamped down on the visa runs.

Didn’t panic much cause I still had time to sort it out.

Cycled another 7km back to the camp, and out of curiosity I checked my passport. That’s when I found out I had already overstayed my visa… for SIX days.

Shit! I freaked out and couldn’t sleep though I was extremely exhausted.

I googled for the circumstances of overstaying a visa and there were people saying “surrender” yourself and just pay the fine, nothing much will happen, you might stay in jail for one day. I did/ do not want to stay in jail!

I was also frantically trying to find flights to get out of Thailand as soon as I could. The penalty for overstaying was paying a fine of 500baht/ day.

Flights to Singapore were the cheapest but I wasn’t ready to go home yet. My alternative was to Siem Reap, despite tickets being close to $200+ but what choice did I have? Time wasn’t on my side. Plus, if I went to Siem Reap, I could look for Ann to hang out.

I was ready to leave on Saturday after breaking the news to everyone but I wanted to make the most of my stay and decided “screw it, what’s overstaying another two more days gna do? I’ll just pay the fine”.

3 July 2015, Friday 

Told people of my situation and I was so bothered and stressed out the whole day. I was pretty bummed that I had to cut short my time with the elephants.

Tried to book my flight to Siem Reap at the camp but there were so many distractions and when I was about to pay, the ride to town was ready to go so I had to put it on hold.

& boy, was I glad I hadn’t booked my ticket cause when I went to Aya Service I saw they had an option for Siem Reap (by bus) for only 1,550baht. That works out to be about $60++, which is way cheaper than $200++ for flying! The only thing is that it would take more than 24 hours to get there which meant another 500baht to pay. But whatever, I was already saving a bit by not flying.

What a blessing in disguise!

SWEETHEART.
SWEETHEART.
Pom Paem.
Pom Paem.
Ot and Pom Paem snatching food.
Ot and Pom Paem snatching food.
Poop. Glorious poop.
Poop. Glorious poop.
Cycled into town and chilled by the riverside. L to R: Keng, Marian, Claire, me.
Cycled into town and chilled by the riverside. L to R: Keng, Marian, Claire, me.
Claire and her new found love for the puppy.
Claire and her new found love for the puppy.

Night market! I really am a fan of night markets and street food.
Night market! I really am a fan of night markets and street food.
Took on a new volunteer role - filming and taking photos.
Took on a new volunteer role – filming and taking photos.
Pom Paem feeding; always hungry.
Pom Paem feeding; always hungry.
Going to help with the bamboo rafts.
Going to help with the bamboo rafts.
Guys at work, girls at... well, snapping shots.
Guys at work, girls at… well, snapping shots.
With Marian!
With Marian!
I call him Mango though his name is Melbo, or something like that. Sweetheart comes by the camp around 4 - 5pm everyday and if he doesn't come, he'll make up for it and come by in the morning.
I call him Mango though his name is Melbo, or something like that. Sweetheart comes by the camp around 4 – 5pm everyday and if he doesn’t come, he’ll make up for it and come by in the morning.
Front of the camp.
Front of the camp.
Trying to make our own version of mango sticky rice.
Trying to make our own version of mango sticky rice.
Ot, forever hungry. If you don't feed her, she'll spit at you playfully.
Ot, forever hungry. If you don’t feed her, she’ll spit at you playfully.
Tut Dao.
Tut Dao.

Local breakfast with Thom and Ae.
Local breakfast with Thom and Ae.
With the sweetheart. I miss her terribly.
With the sweetheart. I miss her terribly.
Elephants have superb memory and are really smart. They know how to turn the knob on the water pipe to drink water. But they don't turn it off when they're done.
Elephants have superb memory and are really smart. They know how to turn the knob on the water pipe to drink water. But they don’t turn it off when they’re done.
Sneaky Ot, always wanting to grab something or grab you.
Sneaky Ot, always wanting to grab something or grab you.
Claire trying to 'train' Ot.
Claire trying to ‘train’ Ot.
Sweetie will lift you as a trick!
Sweetie will lift you as a trick!
And she'll want grass when she puts you down, if not she'll keep 'honking' at you.
And she’ll want grass when she puts you down, if not she’ll keep ‘honking’ at you.
Hard at work - cleaning poop.
Hard at work – cleaning poop.
Riding Pom Paem up the mountains! Claire's on Tut Dao.
Riding Pom Paem up the mountains! Claire’s on Tut Dao.

Beautiful scenery.
Beautiful scenery.
One last ride.
One last ride.
Trip out to Mor Paeng Waterfall!
Trip out to Mor Paeng Waterfall!
Managed to persuade Keng to drive us out.
Managed to persuade Keng to drive us out.
Cotton candy skies.
Cotton candy skies.
Night market performance.
Night market performance.
Hot tubs with natural hot spring water! Great way to relax after a day's work.
Hot tubs with natural hot spring water! Great way to relax after a day’s work.
Same room I stayed in the first time I volunteered.
Same room I stayed in the first time I volunteered.
Farewell dinner.
Farewell dinner.
Foooooood!
Foooooood!
With Sandra, the sometimes annoying puppy.
With Sandra, the sometimes annoying puppy.
Bidding farewell to Ae and Thom; one last photo.
Bidding farewell to Ae and Thom; one last photo.

More on my journey to Siem Reap in the next post.

Till then!


 

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