I spent one month volunteering in Chiang Mai for the Elephant conservation program and it was one of the most incredible time of my life. I have to admit, life in the village can be quite tough. I’m not a sports person and the mountain hikes were definitely not a piece of cake. You also have to adjust to the basic facilities: you end up being used to cold showers and eating rice every day (hard for a French girl like me). However I was so, so, worth it. Living in such a wild place is unique, and thanks to the village inhabitants and all the volunteers you can feed your soul and open your mind to this new culture. I remember how peaceful it was to live there, with kind people and animals all around. I loved spending time with my host family trying to communicate in Pakinyaw (their local language), and being involved in the nursery. GVI is involved in different fields, and you can see that it really improves life in the village, for example by teaching English to kids and adults and by organising after school activities for the children. GVI’s staff were also very supportive, they made sure we were all ok during our stay. When I fell ill, Pheobe came to see me and made sure I was recovering well. Plus, they taught us so much things about Thailand and elephants! But the highlight of my stay was seeing the elephants. I felt so lucky to be able to approach them and so happy to see them getting used to the wild again. I learned so much about them and the necessity to preserve wild species. The way elephants are being used in Thailand is so outrageous! Fortunately the mahouts and GVI now take care of the ones they could bring back to the forest, where, if you’re lucky enough, gibbons can be heard and sometimes seen (I saw them once, and I was wonderful). In a nutshell, spending a month there will be something that I will always remember, and it had a deep impact in the way I see life. I recommend everyone to go and volunteer there, even for a few weeks, to live this amazing experience.