Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai (watch out, watch out, there’s an incredibly cute set of elephant pictures about)

I started this post on 25th March 2017, when I got back from the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Then I fell asleep, hung out in Chiang Mai and Pai for a few days, tootled off to Bangkok and flew back to Heathrow what a mistake so this post has spent the last two-plus years as a list of bullet points. But today is International Elephant Day, apparently, so here are some elephants.

an elephant in Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, eating watermelon

According to my bullet points, elephants consume 10% of their body weight each day. They can have many teeth in their lifetime (sets of teeth, presumably), and their lifespan in the same as humans’.

elephants in nature park behind a fence

I visited the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai as it it was the only one I could find without a single bad review. The elephants who live there are rescued from illegal logging or circuses; there are no fences; the elephants are pretty much allowed to do what they like. Some ‘sanctuaries’ that have rescued elephants from circuses or the like will employ the same methods of control (prodding them with hooks to get them to behave) and allow visitors to ride them, which apparently is bad for their backs.

None of that happens at the Elephant Nature Park. Our guide (whose name I did not record, my bad) explained that they only tempt the elephants with food, and if they aren’t interested then whatever, man, do you want to get trampled by an elephant? I am paraphrasing. Our group had fed an old lady elephant (who refused any food she didn’t like) and we trotted down a trail some distance away from another elephant. Our guide just said, ‘he’s not into people. We’ll leave him,’ and ta daa off we went.

elephant next to trees at Elephant Nature Park Thailand

elephant with leaves in its trunk

Fun fact: African elephants and Asian elephants are completely different species. I dunno which one Dumbo was because I only saw that film once, when I was maybe four, and it made me cry so much I’ve refused to go near it since. I have a feeling the picture book version I had did the same. Interestingly (thanks bullet points), if an elephant is kicking and moving its head back and forth, you’re seeing signs of neurosis, ie it’s gone mad. If you’ve seen an elephant in a circus or ridden one, it’s been broken as a young elephant in a process called ‘crushing’. They are tied with ropes and unable to move at all, prodded with nails or burnt until they can obey basic commands. Some zoos and circuses train the elephant to ‘draw’ with a paintbrush and sell the ‘art’ to tourists.

Gross.

elephant near river at Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai
I think this is the elephant who doesn’t do people. I WONDER WHY.

As part of the day, visitors get to help wash the elephants! They are well up for a bath, although it’s a bit more like throwing paint at a wall than it is helping someone wash their hair.

girl throwing water over elephant in river

Sometimes the humans missed the elephants and got each other… those knobbly bits on their heads denote age, if I remember correctly. We got the opportunity to pat the elephants too, if they liked people. I was not absolutely convinced it’s a good idea but, reader, it was. They’re all hairy!

girl next to elephant in Chiang Mai

You have to approach them from the front so they can see you.

Also, elephants like scratching posts. They enjoy dirt baths. They are incredibly, ridiculously, cute.

baby elephant with leaves in trunk

elephants playing in dirt mountain, Chiang Mai

I mentioned that the park didn’t really do fences. At one point a herd of water buffalo came wandering through and our guide just said something like, ‘oh, they’ve come in from the other side of the mountain.’ A few of the stray dogs who hang out there barked. The elephants did not take notice.

water buffalo and stray dog in Elephant Nature Park

My final bullet point is that the elephants may have hip or foot problems from logging (don’t we have machines to do that for us now?) so they can add that to their list of problems, which already includes ‘being used in bullshit circuses’ and ‘being killed for their ivory because for some reason it is fashionable to have stuff made from elephant teeth’. They are also facing habitat loss, because who isn’t these days.

On the off chance you ever visit northern Thailand, I highly recommend you visit the Elephant Nature Park. It’s absolutely lovely… and I recall the buffet being very tasty.

Want to help the elephants on this fine International Elephant Day? And on every single other day? Here’s what you can do:

  • Never get on an elephant for a ride
  • Don’t visit a circus that uses animals
  • Don’t buy ivory, even if it’s ‘antique’. I can’t remember the name of the show but I once saw an Attenborough programme in which someone pointed out that although the UK has banned ‘new’ ivory, if it is considered ‘antique’ then it’s fair game to sell… too bad no one really knows if a bit of ivory is antique or not!
  • Buy elephant coffee (no it isn’t made from elephant dung, although elephants are very important ecologically, as they spread seeds through their dung)
  • Sponsor an elephant (it’s my birthday soon hint hint)

I loved visiting South East Asia, but there are relatively few places I would jump at the chance to go back to. The Elephant Nature Park is definitely one of them.

I Learnt How Tennis Works and Now I’m an EXPERT. Also, here’s a drawing of a rodent.

I started a quick five minute sidebar update about… half an hour ago? More? I can’t even remember what the intended effect was but I know I don’t want to look at the sidebar for another half an hour. You look instead.

Possibly I chose the wrong time to poke about with delicate design work – I’ve not really woken up from Saturday’s heat/festival/but seriously the heat brain fog and I’ve got one of those to do lists that seems to be getting longer every time I tick something off it. I just tried to spell ‘to do’ as ‘two do’. Hmm. Possibly what I need to do is clock off early and watch Wimbledon. I recently learnt that ‘game, set, match’ isn’t just a turn of phrase. Whoever wins the most games wins the sets and whoever wins the most sets wins the match. How did my exemplary education miss out that nugget of info? Now I actually understand what the point of Wimbledon is!

It is of course possible that my exemplary education did mention that, and I was too busy rolling tennis balls across the court with the edge of a racquet to notice.

18th century drawing of a shrew from unseeliefaerie.tumblr.com
I was looking for a sporting gif and this 18th century illustration of a shrew perfectly sums up my attitude to physical education. Hahaaaaa. [from unseeliefaerie.tumblr.com]
Anyway. The festival. I wrote some actual thank yous over on my portfolio site but in case I haven’t been vocal enough: I loved meeting everyone at Village Green and I can’t wait to do another market or event and meet you all again… once I’ve had about 30 hours sleep and a sack of Colombian coffee. I’ve had about a thousand and one ideas for art and blogs and projects, so watch this space – well, I’m in a lot of spaces on the Internet, I think that’s what I was going for when I added 20 links to the sidebar – and in the mean time, I’m curious: is there anything you guys would like me to blog about? Indifferent Ignorance has been, amongst other things, a politics blog, a book blog, an MCR fan blog and a satire blog. Sometimes it’s been all of them at one time, sometimes it’s been none of them. I quite like that I chop and change according to the weather, but I’m aware that can make for uneven viewing. Since I’m feeling very enthused (honestly, I’m so delighted by the game, set, match thing) I thought I’d put it out there.

If you guys just want more shrew illustrations, I am totally down for that.

Summer Buzzin’

This is one of those weeks where I’m glad I’m a freelancer. I go to work in short shorts, I have lunch in my garden and I start the day watching my dogs lollop around the field with the canine equivalent of beaming smiles before flopping down inside all day like sleepy cherubs.

pinterest.com/pin/6896205649449915
pinterest.com/pin/6896205649449915

It’s also one of those weeks where Instagram stops working, I realise that I’ve got a lot of birthday and holiday-related expenses coming up and I just splashed frappe all over myself and the kitchen.

Still, maybe by the time I get to Zante the euro will have been replaced by a skills-based economy in which my particular brand of cute sarcasm will be gold dust… and maybe Brussels will have cancelled the debt, handed out icecream to every Greek citizen and worked out a solution to the refugee crisis.

Actually, while I’m thinking about it: I shall be offline from 26th July- 6th August, mostly because I need to retrain my brain not to assume every second sound is an email. My Etsy will be on ‘vacation mode’ – it’s going to Tahiti with its girlfriend – and I might schedule some posts for here/Tumblr/wherever to remind you all I exists… hopefully on a beach or clifftop with some nice music and some decent Fanta.

Okay I have to stop typing now because I’m having this paradoxical experience of daydreaming about my holiday while quashing suffocating terror that I can’t really afford one. If this were a Tweet, #freelancelife would be apt.

Enjoy the weather while we have it and drink lots of water!

Mirror, Mirror

I fell asleep on the patio with my trousers rolled up yesterday, which means one thing… summer’s here. Or it’s visiting at any rate.

I love it. I love that I can swap hot coffee for frappes, jeans for short shorts and procrastinating on the Internet for sitting outside being, like, zen. It’s a bit strange that it’s May and for the first time in half a decade I’m not about to sit an exam, but it’s the sort of strangeness one associates with waking up on holiday.

Speaking of summer, this weekend I added two new things to my Etsy that I’m really, really excited about: pocket mirrors. I don’t know how many of you have a collection of mirrors that you take out to different places, but I have a little stash and I love them. Course, none of them are sarcastic, grumpy or outright rude, so I had to design my own.

It's Rude to Stare  It's Okay You Can Tell Me I Look Great

Cool huh. Get them here, for less than the average Starbucks beverage (in fact, I think everything I sell is less than the average Starbucks beverage… and I do my tax in the UK).

I’ve also managed to make myself a portfolio site that isn’t completely repulsive – the link is in the menu bar if you fancy my attempts to be incredibly professional. Speaking of, I have some emails to sort out. Happy Monday… unless you’re packing your bags to leave Tory England forever, anyway.

Is anyone actually doing that?

Calling Everyone Who Can Identify Hollywood Regency from a Line Up

To see if it would boost sales, I just explored the style’ option in the Etsy listings. Here are some of the gems you can choose to help your product increase visibility:

  • Renaissance
  • Kawaii
  • Industrial
  • Art Nouveau
  • Beach
  • Victorian
  • Mid Century
  • Hippie
  • Hipster
  • Waldorf
  • Hollywood Regency
  • Neoclassical
  • Cottage Chic

I’m not sure what those words mean, let alone if my artwork fits into the categories. As an experiment I have made Ghost Stories Goth and Fantasy, these Retro and Kitsch and my Imitation Game poster both Traditional and Modern. Etsy also offers an ‘occasions’ list, which is handy around, say, Valentine’s Day, but feels quite constricting the rest of the year. That being said, I made the first Ghost Stories Halloween and the second Day of the Dead just to see. I’ve also done something I didn’t want to do for the tea/coffee posters and selected the optioning proclaiming them ‘for women’. They’re not, they’re for anyone who wants them… but Etsy’s front page makes casual Joe customer browse by person type… so I thought what the hell. I feel icky though – if I don’t receive cold hard cash in return for my sexism, it’s going back.

Okay, now can anyone tell me what ‘Industrial’ is supposed to mean? Does Etsy have a subculture of 17th century mine works salvagers?

Funny Story…

On Tuesday I woke up at eleven, which I never do, cooked breakfast, which I never do, and decided to chill out all day, which I never do. “I’ll write a leisurely blog and maybe go to the library,” I thought, “then catch up on some TV.” I did catch up on some TV, but I also got the worst headache I’ve ever had, so most of the day was spent trying to block out all external stimuli.

Anyway, I’ve gradually regained the ability to look at flickering screens and converse with other humans, so I thought I’d better do a blog and go through everything I meant to post last week, plus some other stuff.

  1. The blog is snowing as of today!!! Wooo it means it’s time to fix my one-eyed cat Christmas jumper and dig out a URL for Every Snowflake’s Different!
  2. I finished my Heroes of Olympus poster set, which I’m incredibly proud of. I made Annabeth’s two entire years ago after reading Mark of Athena, then got inspired by House of Hades to make a set for the Seven plus Nico, Thalia and Reyna. I’m glad I waited for the end of the series to make a lot of them, but I did feel like Sisyphus every time I tried to align a new set of text on Photoshop and come up with a snappy slogan for my favourite fictional snowflakes.
  3. I updated Etsy a lot! The Heroes set is now on there in its full glory as downloads and postcards; there’s a sale of some products whose listings end soon plus The Little Book of Indifferent Ignorance and I’ve ordered samples of new materials to test shinier products.

It’s was a nice week apart from the fact I didn’t go near a cup of coffee for nearly a week in case my skull shattered. Happy December!

We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This…

Sunday again. I meant to write yesterday but then I watched Strictly and an old episode of Sherlock and really, those two things can’t be interrupted by intelligent work.

Apparently it’s now just 31 days until Christmas, which apparently I’m supposed to be excited about?

From silent-fun.tumblr.com
From silent-fun.tumblr.com

If I get excited now – and there is a teeny tiny part of me that is – I will have used up my Christmas cheer by 12th December. So I am pulling faces at Christmas songs in shops, scowling at house decorations – it is fucking November what is wrong with you people? – and trying to be Scrooge.

This year I will try to finish A Christmas Carol. Have I technically started it if I’ve only ever read a few pages? Don’t answer that.

The only preparation I’ve done is set aside a pot for gift money. Is it just me or are presents a) harder to choose each year and b) more expensive each year?

I mean, I’ve done the group present thing and the DVDs for everyone thing and the posh coffee because we’re all addicted thing. Recently I saw a calendar my brother might have liked but it was about £15, which would’ve eaten up my budget for most of the people I know and it’s not that interesting. Plus there seems to be more people to buy for every year and I don’t even get out much, so I’m taking stock of my friends and working out who will/won’t be offended by a home-made postcard and it’s getting a bit political.

When I was about eight, my aunt took me Christmas shopping and I think I got a gift for three separate people and our dog for £20. Possibly I am looking through time-tinted spectacles at the past. Or possibly that was pre-recession when a five pound note was likely to get you change.

Christ, I’m old aren’t I?

Portable Parlour Game of the Week: Tattoo Watch

Stories no one wants to hear: Why Francesca Can Write a Blog Post But Can’t Publish Her Blood of Olympus Review, Why Flip Flop Blisters Won’t Heal and When Another Frappe Is Too Many Frappes: A Saga.

What larks eh. You know what I like about being in a warm country? The popular parlour game Tattoo Watch. It’s free, it’s funny and the only issue is when you find a piece cute but someone you’re with thinks it makes the wearer a pillock. I’m sitting on my own, so I’m free to play covert ops behind my phone.

There’s a bloke a couple of tables away who got either a Pegasus, an eagle or a very angry sparrow on his forearm about twenty years ago. I can also see a person with what could be part of a crucifix or an upside-down sword on their shoulder blades. A few years ago my dad and I actually got binoculars out to establish whether a bloke had the Grim Reaper or the Batman logo on his back.

I can’t remember which it was.

If I ever get inked, I want something like the Fair Trade logo, which looks like tadpoles from a distance and turns out to be a little dude waving. I’ll get a cute spiral on the small of my back which up close says ‘STOP STARING, CREEP’.

Maybe not. So, who likes playing Tattoo Watch? Has anyone been an object in the game? Or have you made any really loud comments about a pice that turned out to be a skin complaint? Share your stories, snowflakes, we could make a collection of anecdotes.