New England fashion and beauty photographer

The Chai Lai experience – Help feed the elephants

Imagine thatched roof mountain bungalows perched atop a gentle rolling hill amongst foggy mountains in the northern Thailand province of Chiang Mai. You wake up to take a heated open-air shower in your bungalow, while hearing the symphony of jungle fauna coming to life. You walk outside on the balcony because you hear some rustling in the bushes. You realize that you have somebody joining you for breakfast… and he wants all the bananas. Your breakfast companion is Nam Phet, an adult elephant. This may sound like a mythical destination, but The Chai Lai Orchid is an actual place. It may seem like the world’s most Instagram-able place – and it may actually be that too – but the core and soul of Chai Lai is what makes it a beautiful organization. The Chai Lai Orchid is an eco-friendly organization which rescues elephants that have been abused in tourist shows or other organizations. It offers the opportunity to interact with elephants in an ethical, natural way while learning about them at the same time. Chai Lai Orchid also partners with Daughters Rising Thailand, whose mission is to rescue women from neighboring countries and parts of Thailand where they are at risk of being sex trafficked. Chai Lai Orchid serves as a safe house for these individuals, where at the same time, they learn business-related life skills that will help them at Chai Lai and beyond.

The images and video were captured in 2019 when I spent 4 days there. As I am typing this in April 2020, the world is in the throes of the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. As almost all travel has been shut down, it is serving a hard hit to the elephant tourism industry of Thailand. The money that would be coming in from visiting guests has been eliminated; therefore, the funds for feeding elephants has gone away. I hope that someday you have the opportunity, just as I did, to visit and experience Chai Lai, but I also hope that if you have the means that you will consider donating to this organization in their time of unprecedented need. The link is below to donate. Thank you all for visiting this page!


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