It’s been just over a year that I came back from my first trip to Southeast Asia. Looking through my pictures make me want to go back again soon. It was an amazing experience, traveling alone for so far and so long. It was also gratifying to be able to connect and communicate with people, using my art, when at times, using language, wasn’t possible.
My first stop was Chaing Mai, to spend some time in the Northern region of Thailand, spending two weeks working with elephants. The view in the morning was magnificent, and I woke up to the sound of elephants, usually eating, and making elephants noises.
Baby elephants are several-hundred pound toddlers. They are clumsy, and playful, and want to put everything in their mouths. Flip-flops, water bottles, sunglasses, hand, and feet, all need to be watched with close eyes, because playful babies will quickly grab and start chewing on them.
Also, like toddlers, they enjoy wrestling, cuddles, and water fights at bath time. During the day in between hikes around the camp and afternoon bath time, the elephant camp would let help feed the elephants and hand out treats. It seemed like the elephants were perpetually eating. Some of the elephant snack favorite were: corn on the cob, bananas (peeled for the babies), pineapple, sugar cane, and loads and loads of hay.
After the first week we had a celebration with the mahoot who has been helping us learn how to properly ride and communicate with the elephants safely. To show my appreciation I brought out the face paints and we had a party!
Liz and Erica were great travel buddies that first week. Liz is a medical professional from Canada, and Erica works for herself and takes yearly trips to Thailand from Holland. They, too, got into the festivities after a long week. I got to share other firsts with them after we met in the lobby of our Chain Mai hotel. We had planned this leg of our trip through the same travel professionals. Even before we reached the gorgeous elephant camp, where we would live for the next week, for me the next two, we traveled together to a Thai cooking class and a zipline day trip through the jungle with dragon flight.
Sometimes being a face painter means you get to be the canvas as well! I’m super happy to trade off paint brushes with someone. Especially if its new to the person, sharing art with someone is a very cool experience, and I’m pleased to wear my art proudly!
The second week, we took a couple days away from the elephant camp, and we went hiking in the jungle, and stayed there for a couple nights. The campsite was right next to a waterfall and reminded me very much of Swiss Family Robinson. I was going to get to spend the night in a tree house!
We made dinner “bamboo-style”. Mixing and stuffing our meat, veggies, and spices in a large fresh bamboo shoot, it’s placed to steam over the open fire. Not only was it a super efficient way of cooking, but the fire and bamboo helped to flavor everything in a very delicious way. At night, after taking a cool shower in the waterfall, we watch fireflies glow down by the water.
In between we had a lot of down time. We played card games, napped, made animal friends, and made some time to make art in the the jungle.
During one of our games I suggested that we make a wager. The victor gets to pain whatever they want on the others face with no input. Both our painted faces and our reaction faces were pretty priceless.