After 3 weeks of travelling and volunteering, we are on our way home. I think that we can all agree on that this has been an amazing, but also challenging, experience. Therefore, I think that we are all ready to finally go home and reflect on what we have been doing, since there have been so many impressions and experiences all at once.

To summarize our three weeks, we have built a toilet for a preschool/kindergarten, built a dam, done some gardening, planted both dry and wet rice, and built stairs (all in the first village of Maelaoop), planted 3000 trees during our reforestation project, cut corn, planted grass, fed the elephants, and cleaned their shelters (at the Elephant Nature Park). Furthermore, our trip has also involved other activities and experiences that have contributed to the development of our understanding of the Thai culture, volunteering in general, ecotourism, and the tragic exploitation of animals. We have had the chance to explore the Thai culture closely by participating in several ceremonies (e.g. at the school in Maelaoop village, at Buddhist temples, at the ENP) and by working together with locals. We have been taught how we can make a change even after leaving Thailand, and the trip in its entirety has left us inspired and motivated to do so in the name of a better world for humans and animals.

Before I finish this blogpost, there are a few things the group wants to point out about our return; there are routines that we are now used to that might affect families and friends at home. Such routines include the following:

- standing up, or squatting, rather than sitting down on the toilet seat;

- using a bucket to fill with water to clean ourselves, rather than using the shower at home;

- digging random holes in the backyard;

- shouting "waterbreak!!" every 5-10 minutes;

- sleeping on the floor;

- sleeping under a mosquito net, as this is the only way to feel safe in the night;

- eating rice for breakfast;

- tieing pieces of orange fabric around the neighbours' trees;

- applying mosquito repellant every other hour;

- bringing dirty working gloves everywhere because you never know when it's time to dig another hole;

- purchasing a large picture of the Swedish king to admire and worship;

- always walked bowed passed parents and the elderly, also including teachers;

- washing the hair only once a week, and then tell everyone how amazingly nice it is;

- washing the dishes outside in buckets with water;

- always being 15 minutes early to everything;

- never planning anything ever again, because things will eventually work out anyways;

- always cover shoulders and knees and freak out if someone's showing too much skin.

We will see you soon.

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Hi! I am now writing from the T-room hotel in Chiangmai during our last evening as a group in Thailand. Apologies for the unregulated blog posts, Internet has definitely not been available to us when we needed it. So now you have received pretty much the whole last week in a few days, but at least it came right? :) Anyway, thank you for your patience and that you have been following our adventure from the screen!

Back to the moment, we have spent the last day in Thailand. It is sad in many was but most of us also feel the need to go home and see you guys! This morning we spent our time at ENP still, working in the elephant kitchen. Our task was to first wash all the watermelons that were in, an we are talking about quite a few. Why we needed to wash them is because since the elephants eat the whole thing it is important to get rid of the chemicals that may be found on them. When having washed all the watermelons there was a new truck arriving that we had to unload and replace the watermelons we had washed. We created three chains and started throwing watermelons all over the place. To laud music it did feel rather exotic to throw watermelons all over! Although, to be honest there were quite a few that got dropped in the process... ;) some of us also got to make tamarind balls for the elephants, one of their favorites apperently. After our "hard work" (this is not the kind if volunteering we have been doing for the rest of the trip - this is the light version) we went out in the fields to take a group picture together with two elephants that willingly posed with us (okey, there was some food involved...).

Then we finished te last packing, enjoyed another tasty lunch and bought some tshirts and other souvenirs in the gift shop before we once again took our places in the vans and got to Chiang Mai. The Elephant Nature Park has been amazing in so many ways. We have learnt a lot about how elephants should e treated and how the situation actually is right now, we have enjoyed the lovely environment and peacefulness of this place and the elephants and we have also liked the fact that we have had real bed and showers and some relaxing time. We are amazed by the work they do at ENP, led by Lek, and feel inspired to continue fighting for animal rights ourselves. Overall, ENP has been great in my opinion - there are so much things that I love about that place!

When arriving to Chiang Mai some of us rested for some time or people went to a supermarket with a tuc tuc. In the evening however, most of us went to the night market again. It is fun and exciting to be in a place with so many people, especially tourists, after living in rather remote areas. We all spent our last money and did some intense shopping, you can expect some rather nice gifts! ;)

The day has come to an end and we are spending the last minutes playing cards in the heat of Thailand. Tomorrow is traveling time, bye for now!



Hello readers!

On the 27th of June which was also our third day at the ENP, we were given the infamous task of cleaning out the elephant night shelters. At 8 AM we took our shovels, rakes and squeezed onto the back of tractor ready to take on the job.

After the morning shift and the vegetarian lunch that followed, we had another rather tough task ahead of us; planting grass in pouring rain. Over the course of the trip we've gotten pretty good at planting/gardening overall but the mud and rain made it more difficult.

We also had the time to listen to Lek (the founder of ENP) give a moving presentation about Elephants and the horrible situation they're in. There are many factors that add up the situation today. In 1900 there were 300 000 elephants in the wild and 10 000 in captivity. Today there are only 6000 elephants left. Elephants have always played a major role in Thai culture and its image is found everywhere ; in temples, as decorations and sculptures. The domestic elephant was mostly used in the logging industry until it was banned in 1989 when the government realized that cutting down the forest led to bigger problems with flooding during the rainy season. This led to a huge unemployment for all the elephants that were used in the industry and the owners either let them free as they are expensive to maintain (where they did not survive since they didn't know how to take care of themselves) or they started to work in the tourist industry. Today most animals work with trekking, elephant shows and street begging which are all activities that are not good for the elephants. In order for the elephant to listen to humans they go through a training that last for a few days. The baby elephants are separated from their mothers when they are around 4 years old, sometimes even as young as one year. They are forced into a cage where they are tied with ropes and stabbed with hooks and other hurting items whenever they protest. The terrified elephants stay in there for a couple of days in the process that is "breaking the spirit". Without any food or water the elephants are suffering under the hands of humans and it is not unusual that the animals die or take their own lives. This is what they have to go through before they can carry tourists or beg for money in the busy streets. Also throughout their lives they are constantly being beaten and tortured as soon as they don't "behave". This is only a minor part if the issues facing these beautiful animals and the situation is complex. Lek showed us a lot of pictures and told us stories of hundreds of elephants, all suffering enormously. We got the task to keep on talking and sharing our knowledge about the actual situation and that is something we will definitely do, the animal abuse has to come to an end. 

The day ended with eating dinner with all the other volunteers, while watching Thai dance performances by some local children.

Overall it was a busy but very fun day at the park!



The first working day at the elephant nature park. We went on a truck to a corn-Field where we cut down some corn plants that we put in piles in which we put 30 in each pile. The corn we cut down was to feed the elephants and it's suppose to be a whole day job. But we worked so fast that after lunch (that we had at the corn fields) we were done. Which resulted in some spare time in the afternoon that our guide Eak suggested we should use to go tubing down the local river. So we decided to do that. So we went back to the park, on top of the truck stuffed with corn. It was amazing to sit up there when we drove away. And the tubing was so much fun, we sat in these "tiers" and just went were the river toke us. Most of the time it was just relaxing but when the currents grabbed us it got a bit exacting. It was such a nice day!!! P&K❤️



I am now sitting on the platform area of Elephant Nature Park right now watching these amazing animals roaming around in the green. We have finally arrived to the Elephant Nature Park (ENP), a part of our trip that we have all looked forward to. After a quick breakfast in Ban Lao we jumped in the ENP vans with another documentary about the Thai elephant on and headed onto the turning roads.

On arrival we got in contact with elephants right away as we got the opportunity to feed a couple of them. Everything looked exactly as in the videos we had seen but yet these massive elephants feel much more impressive in real life.

The Elephant Nature Park was founded by Sangduen Chailert (nicknamed Lek), a Thai woman from a hill tribe that has a huge heart the elephant - a very important symbol of Thailand. In 1994 Lek created what she called "Elephant Heaven", a place in the jungle where she saved and took care of injured elephants and gave them a safe place to live. At that time Lek had only a couple of elephants and it wasn't until 2003 that the project expanded as the land where the park is now situated was donated to her. Over the years this place has grown to what it is today - a safe home to 49 elephants (with more to come next week), around 400 dogs, 200 cats and many buffaloes among other animals. It is a wonderful place with so much love for animals and elephants especially so it is great to be part of this environment!

Today we started by getting a tour of the park where we had the opportunity to get really close to and observe a few elephants. After a lunch consisting of loads of dishes, all vegetarian, we got to listen to a woman talking about the park and the safety rules that exist. We got an understanding for how hard it is to do the job that Lek is doing. The government together with a lot of organizations and individuals are against her and do everything they can to stop her because of her honesty about how the Thai elephant is treated and everything she does to try to stop the ongoing animal abuse. More explanation about the situation of the Thai elephant is hopefully coming but feel free to have a look at their website;

Afterwards we got to help bathing the animals, basically meaning throwing buckets of water at them in the river. We then got to enjoy some free time where we all tried to connect to a poorly working WiFi connection or just enjoyed the view of the elephants.

Before dinner we were invited to a ceremony with a shaman where we blessed and wished good luck, similarly to the previous one in Mae La Oop we got a white string around our wrist. It was definitely interesting although everything was in Thai.

It has been a great day and we all enjoy this amazing place, I could keep on writing about this place and the elephants' situation for ages but I think this is good for now. We are all happy although a bit exhausted but we will find the energy to cut some corn tomorrow!



Good evening! Today was the last day of planting trees on a surprisingly small mountain of the little Thai village called Ban Lau. When we first arrived here and saw all of the small saplings (more precisely there were 3000 of them) to be planted within an area the size of 10 football fields, I strongly doubted the time given to put all of those trees into the sun baked soil. However, after two days of having 14 hardworking people digging holes like crazy and running up and down the steep slopes carrying multiple small trees, looking like bushes come alive, we somehow managed to plant 3000 trees! It amazes me what a group of people can accomplish when their forces are joined together for the purpose of doing good. After having admired the reforested area from the bottom of the hill we all jumped on the back of the dirt covered pickup truck once and for all, heading back to the house for lunch. As soon as we had finished the rice and spicy dishes served to us we were all invited to take part of a Buddhist ceremony. The ceremony, much like the one in the first village we visited, involved tying orange scarfs around trees to protect them from being cut down. According to Buddhist belief, cutting down a tree with an orange marker will bring misfortune and bad luck to the person who cut the tree throughout his/her life. The orange scarf is believed to be sacred. The ceremony was very peaceful and mysteriously comforting to me. I felt connected to the tree as I was tying the scarf around its trunk wishing for it to live and grow in peace. I'm off to bed now feeling excited about all the adventures to come. Next up: The elephant nature park!



Today was the first whole day working with planting the trees. We continued were we left of yesterday and worked hard with several water-breaks and a longer one called "the cookie-break" were we ate rolled wafers with chocolate aka the cookies. Then we kept on with the repeating work, dig a whole, plant a tree, dig a whole, plant a tree.. But you could enjoy it the most when you faced the amazing view. After work, most of us placed our selves on our balcony with a book or music and just enjoyed the afternoon, and continued with that after dinner as well. But me, Cecilia, Philipa and Gabi went for quite a long walk to the village, were we visited the tempel. It was so beautiful but also a bit scary since it was starting to get dark. Hugs to you guys back in sweden❤️❤️



Chiang Mai Sunday the 21st to Monday the 22nd.

We left the village at 8 am with the trucks again, this time knowing that it would take around six hours. What we did not expect was to arrive earlier than expected. We got our rooms and everyone went to different places. Some of us (Loviza, Rebecca, Lila, Axel, Oliver, Louisa and I) went to McDonald's, Subway, Starbucks and 7eleven, longing for fast food. We had to find the right place where all these places were close to each other, so we passed some of the newer part of Chiang Mai.

The most important part of Chiang Mai was the nigh market though. We all went to the main street after dinner, with money in our pockets and the cameras in our hands.

There were people everywhere, from all over the world and you could find anything there. We all had different things we were looking for and the big selection of things made it harder than expected to know what to buy, and of course, we all wanted the best prices. The market contained fresh fruits, notebooks, jewellery and the list goes on.

After the night market it was time to go to bed and try to pack our bags again, this time with even more things. Sleep was not the biggest priority for most of us and we went up for breakfast at 7 am the morning after, very tired.



Hello civilization! My name is Oliver, I'm writing to you from the village where we are going to spend the coming 3 days. I'm laying on the balcony at the moment and even though the view is limited by trees, it is absolutely astonishing. I thought I'd give you an update on what me and my friends have been up to this exciting day!

As you probably know by now, we spent the night in Chiang Mai. Breakfast was served at seven like any other day, and at eight we took off! The first stop was the prostheses foundation. Here, they make prostheses out of aluminium and give to people and animals that are disabled. Maybe some of you don't know this, but for the past months me and my friends have been collecting can rings from home, work, school and a bunch of different places, that we gave to this amazing foundation. It was so cool to see how they were able to make a copy of the patient's stump in just 5 minutes, using nothing but sand and pressure.

At around 10 we arrived at the village. First thing I hear is dogs barking, I thought I was going to freak out as I stepped out of the van and was greeted by some of the happiest dogs on earth. After finding out that they were all healthy, as you can probably guess, I spent the next 15 minutes just surrounded by these crazy furry animals. I was in heaven. Some time later, Eek (our leader) gave us a quick introduction and at around 13:00 we left for work. The ride there was like Balder at Liseberg. We were all standing in the back of their pick-up truck. Even the dogs came with us! It was amazing. We arrived at the location and Eek showed us how we were supposed to plant the trees and where. To my surprise I really enjoyed it, though when I think about it, it was probably 10% because of the view, and 90% because the dogs were with us.

It's so different here compared to the other village. Reason #1 FLUSHABLE TOILETS! Reason #2 NORMAL SHOWERS!

My general feeling about this place is that I feel very welcomed, but also respected in a way, for the work that we are doing. This could partly be because of the thousands of chocolate wafers that I have stuffed my face with... But you get the picture! Hope you are all having a great time in your fluffy beds, I'm gonna see if I can find some ants to cook for dinner... That was a joke.... We get food.... Sort of...

Oliver out!



​I am three days late with writing this blog post; apparently procrastination follows you all the way to Thailand. We're just about to leave for our next village, but let's not skip ahead.

Friday the 19th. Swedish Midsummer. Me and 3/4 of the group started the day with going to the rice fields. I've started appreciating the small things more and more, such as managing to get all the hot coco powder in the mug at breakfast, walks to work before the sun has set and conversations about the most random of things while standing in muddy water plantong rice. The latter being what we spent the first four hours of the day doing. Have you ever seen pictures of rice fields with dozens of people hiding under big hats with their hands working their way in and out of the water? That day, we were those people. It was hot, muddy and tiring, but so rewarding once we stood looking down at all the fields we had covered with green plants. Standing in the most gorgeous of landscapes doing physical work in complete silence turns out to be really therapeutic. I enjoyed it a lot.

The main event of this day, however, was taking place after lunch. While most of us planted rice, a few stayed in the village creating a Midsummer pole (among other things) using green leaves and bamboo sticks. Long before we even left Sweden, we planned an activity for the school children to praise the most beautiful of Swedish traditions: små grodorna. We gathered together with all teachers and students, ready to shine. But before our performance, we were asked to go onto stage, where a rather strange ceremony was about to take place. We were served food and alcohol, blessed with bracelets and spoken to in Thai. A very different but interesting and fun thing to experience.

Okay. So. This far, the day had been nothing but calm and peaceful. Now let's imagine something together: a hundred 6-14 year olds that speak little to no English, trying to learn a Swedish tradition by imitating a group or teenagers jumping around in a circle. Let's just say that our Midsummer celebration with Thai children by far was the best midsummer I've ever participated in. My cheeks still hurt from laughing and I constantly walk around with a smile on my face thinking about the organized chaos that we got to be a part of.

Since most of the children go home over the weekend, we all said farewell to each other, the Swedish, Thai and global ways: shaking hands, bowing with your hands together and lots of hugs. Afterwards, we were challenged to play football against the local kids, and God did we get completely wrecked. The bucket shower had never felt as good as after running back and forth for an hour in 30 degrees Celsius. And that was our Midsummer! /A pretty exhausted Loviza