Today the students of MUIC went on a field trip to the Sampran Riverside which is a compound consisting of a Thai cultural center, Elephant sanctuary, organic tea farm, and a resort for tourists. We traveled by bus from the Mahidol campus. The ride was about an hour and gave us a good chance to see different areas of Bangkok along the way.
When we arrived we had about 30 minutes to explore the compound before we were to have lunch. We spent some time walking around the gardens close by to the dining hall before hand. When lunch started we entered into this massive hall on the river with seating for around 400 people. Since there were only about 75 of us we had the whole place to our selves. The food was beautiful, and there was so much of it. We enjoyed fresh fruit, maki, dozens of thai dishes ranging from pad thai to green curry over white rice, and banana fritters with maple syrup – it was amazing. I finished it off with the most amazing organic lemongrass tea I’ve ever had. It had emotionally overwhelmed. I feels so good to be apart of something like this, to be at the receiving end of the great lengths MUIC has gone to give us such a wholesome welcoming into their family. I felt honored to be apart of it all.
After lunch we had about 1 hour to explore the compound some more. We walked all over and embraced every inch of its beauty. I walked into a garden where there were 3 mahouts and their elephants, and I was completely in awe. I had not seen an elephant since I was in 1st grade, and certainly not one that I could pet. One mahout in particular had a small elephant who’s name in Thai translated to Full Moon. She was beautiful – very small, and cute – and I was completely mesmerized by her beauty. I rubbed her trunk and face and she pushed up against me affectionately like a little puppy. At 1500 lb puppy. I was really sad to leave her. The elephants here seemed happy but I was unsure about how I felt about them in the sanctuary. I couldn’t see any visible scaring on any of the elephants so I guess them being there is better than subject to poaching in the wild.
When we finally let the elephants we did a little bit more walking around and then it was time for a live show put on by the Mahouts and their elephants. They danced to music and did some tricks like twirling hula hoops on their trunks and spraying water.
From there we went a saw a live Thai cultural demonstration. We saw traditional farming techniques, 3 rounds of Muay Thai, Traditional fighting matches with swords, and bamboo shafts. We saw a Thai marimba orchestra and a traditional wedding ceremony. It was amazing. At the end they did some traditional Thai dance and I actually went out onto the stage and danced with them. I was so nervous as I was the first one, but when I turned around others had followed so It was a blast.
I am so grateful to be so privileged to be apart of an opportunity of this scale. Its like nothing I’ve ever seen. There is a certain level of respect and cultural awareness between people that is much different than that of home. Thailand is an amazing place and I could seriously see myself spending more time here in the future.Tags: bangkok, Elephants, Gardens, Mahidol University, MUIC, Sampran Riverside, Thai Food