On December 31st of last year, we went to visit Max and Mina’s great grandmother in Surin. This is the second year we have stopped on the way at Baan Tha Klang Elephant Village on the way.
This is the affordable elephant village in Thailand for mainly Thais, as compared to the overpriced one for foreigners in Chiangmai. Prices for everything are much cheaper here, especially for high ticket items like elephant rides and elephant paintings. Also, the experience here is raw – you are closer to the animals and may even get into slightly dangerous situations (if being molested or trampled on by an elephant could be described as such). For these reasons, I recommend Baan Tha Klang in Surin Province as the best place to go see elephants, except for the faint of heart, or people who don’t mind paying $150 for a Dumbo painting.
These villagers are descendants of the Suay or Kuay Ethnic group, who have a long history elephant husbandry. Unlike northern Thailand where elephant is kept for labor, Ta Klang people consider elephant as their friends who can share the same house.
Insofar as they are all living in the same dusty village, this much seems to be true. The mahouts in Chiangmai are probably told not to speak with all the thousands of guests they see every day. The mahouts here openly ask for money to buy the elephants food. It’s just a more genuine experience, as exploitation of large mammals on a large scale goes. Anyway. Elephants!!
Looking back through our photo archives, I found that I’d never had time to blog about last year’s visit. I found footage of the main show, where we almost got trampled by Jumbo and Baby Dumbo: