Continuing on from Part 1, let’s talk just a bit more about the Maesa Elephant Camp. There were a couple of fascinating sidebars to the main attraction, the elephants themselves.
|My favorite of the elephant paintings|
First, we were treated to a gallery of elephant art. Not art with elephants as the subject but art by elephants themselves. This is actually a big deal. Elephant art is sold online to help support their conservation and the Guinness World record for the most expensive one sold is $39,000. The paintings I saw were generally attractive. So…interesting, right?
Also we passed a small group of women who had prepared the rice balls pictured below, which contain medicines and herbs to keep the elephants healthy.
|Medicated rice balls|
|The beauty of all these woven pieces is incredible.|
|This woman takes 3-5 days to weave a scarf.|
On to the hill tribes village we visited. It is set up as an actual community where members of each tribe really live onsite in the types of homes they would in their own regions – very simple, humble abodes. The only electricity in the village is relative to the restaurant and office, but the homes do not have electricity or the accompanying conveniences.
|Long-necked lady & Tony, my driver|
While I was fascinated by seeing the various types of dress and especially the ornamentation of the long-eared and long-necked women, I really didn’t enjoy myself and cut the visit short. I couldn’t help feeling like a voyeur. My tuk-tuk driver Tony got me to sit for a photo of me wearing a fake brass neck extender and it was interesting but again, I was uncomfortable. It felt like a people zoo.
That being said, I’m glad I went and I do realize that the money earned from the entrance fees, souvenirs and little café really help these people and serve to retain traditions. I’m sure others enjoy the village a great deal.
Next up a short piece on a real zoo!