I’ve been in Hauy Pakoot village for 4 days now & so far so good. Communicating with the villagers is pretty hard because they speak very limited English so you go off hand signals & try & learn some Pakinyow. If all else fails just say ‘la offie’ which pretty much means you’re going to base hut because they call it the office. Food has been ok; they put egg in everything & your guaranteed rice with every meal.
Our daily routine usually begins with breakfast at base hut which is provided but some of the volunteers opt to bring their own cereal or bread because they can’t stomach rice so early in the morning. Then we ride in the ute for about 20 minutes to take us closer to the forest where the elephants are. We hike for 3-4 hours & return to camp for lunch which is packed for us in the morning by our home stay. I usually like to have a bucket shower by this time to try & clean myself up before I eat lunch. We have a bit of free time & return to base hut for lessons or presentations in the afternoon. Then we return to our home stays for dinner & then back to base hut for more presentations or games. Last night we had a quiz night which was lots of fun because there are so many volunteers here at the moment.
Hiking everyday has been very hot & sweaty but good. Monday we got to feed the elephants bananas & it was amazing! Very special to get so close & even feed them straight into their mouth. It’s a great photo day as well! Tuesday we woke up & started hiking at 6:30am to find the elephants & do health checks on all of them and in total we were out in the forest for about 3 hours. This day we also heard a long session of Gibbons calling which was very cool to hear. Wednesday’s hike was amazing. We came across 2 elephants that weren’t part of the GVI herd but belong to villagers in Hauy Pakoot who have bought them home for ‘holiday s’ because of Songkran Festival. We also found San Jep in a bit of a muddy rock clearing & watched her have a mud bath. Today’s hike was a bit hit & miss. We found all the elephants including the holiday ing elephants but it was really bad viewing. All the elephants were in really dense or rough forest so it was hard to get to them. At times we were surrounded by all the elephants & the group got slit up because of the elephants were moving too fast for us to get out of the way.
I had a basket weaving lesson this week & made a ‘chicken’ basket’. It took about 2 hours and the finished product looks pretty cool. After dinner a few of the volunteers went to teach Mahout English. We revised directions, parts of the body & tree which they learn last week & this week went through fruit & actions.
Right now base hut has just had an extension built by the villages because we were outgrowing it. We’re celebrating tonight be eating dinner with all the villagers in our new extended base hut with a bit of a BBQ.