A room at the (primitive) Palace

Written by on November 7, 2011 in Asia, Blog, Thailand - 14 Comments

I don’t expect much when Jack hands me the key to my room, a hut in the Palace complex.

On the Elephant Nature Park’s Web site, it states the toilets are squat and the showers are Thai (meaning buckets to rinse, no shower heads), so when I walk the few feet to my lodging for the week, I am not getting my hopes up.

The walk from the main area to my room isn’t far. In fact, aside from the staff quarters, my hut is probably the closest. I stroll down the dirt road, paying careful attention to my surroundings. To my right is the gate to the elephant’s habitat. Then, there’s one of the shelters that houses two of the elephant families with babies. Then, some jungle foliage and … the Palace complex.

Yes, it’s called The Palace.

It’s a fairly basic structure, two wooden huts on a platform. I walk up the creaky stairs to my hut. And that’s when I hear it: elephant chirping. I peer around the massive tree on the side of my front porch, and there they are — the elephants.

Amazing.

Key in hand, I unlock the padlock on my door and step inside.

It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.

The room is bare, save for a queen-sized bed flanked in mosquito netting. It’s all very primitive.

There are three sets of windows, a fan and one little light.

My palace for the week at Elephant Nature Park

I’m not staying here for the accomodation. I’m staying here for the elephants.

I drop my bag down next to my bed and take a pre-cursory sit on it. It’s pretty comfortable. I run my hands over the warm blanket. Soft. I grab a pillow and squeeze it to me. Perfect.

Then, I stand up and go to each of my windows, throwing open the wooden shutters.

Even though rain threatens us, light floods the room. I walk to the set of windows that opens to the elephants.

They are right outside of my window.

Elephants. I am sleeping nearly next to elephants.

A tinge of “holy shit” runs through my veins.

The view from the porch of my palace

I have a few minutes to unwind before I have to go back to the group to watch a documentary on Asian elephants.

I do a quick investigation, walking down a wooden walkway between my room and the other, to the bathrooms and showers.

I am greeted with a western toilet and a western shower. With hot water. (Apparently, the Palace is the only complex with hot water, so I lucked out, even if it was too hot outside to enjoy hot showers.)

I head back to my room for a few and crawl onto my bed and lay on my side, just staring out at the spectacular scene in front of me.

A view from my room

Outside of my window, there are beautiful trees with glistening leaves. In the distance, emerald green mountains loom, with a fine layer of mist cutting across.

And there, right there, out my window, are elephants.

 

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is a former career breaker and long term solo traveler. Today, she helps promote responsible elephant tourism and is the co-founder of #RTTC, a weekly chat on Twitter focusing on responsible tourism. When she isn’t writing, Diana handles the PR and social media for Save Elephant Foundation, which runs the popular Elephant Nature Park. Her writing as appeared in About.com, Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Luna Luna, Vegas Seven, World Nomads, Viator, CheapOair, OneTravel and more.

14 Comments on " A room at the (primitive) Palace "

  1. Tenia November 7, 2011 at 6:23 am · Reply

    Love your story. I will be doing the same in a couple of year’s. Thanks for sharing your moments.

    • The Adventures of D November 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm · Reply

      Thank you, Tenia! You will truly enjoy your experience when you go. It is phenomenal!

  2. karen November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am · Reply

    I’ll be on a plane to Thailand from LA on Friday. My destination in the Elephant Nature Park. Thank you for sharing. This looks amazing!

    • The Adventures of D November 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm · Reply

      WOW!! I am so thrilled for you!! How long will you be staying? It is the experience of a lifetime. It changed my life.

  3. Emily in Chile November 7, 2011 at 10:48 am · Reply

    Expecting a squat toilet and finding a Western one must feel like winning the lottery – and of course the elephants would just be the cherry on top of it all.

    • The Adventures of D November 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm · Reply

      Absolutely it did!!! I was really excited!! And, thrilled about the shower situation, too. Although it was far too hot and muggy to take a hot shower most of the time.

  4. Dana November 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm · Reply

    Thank you so much for the write up. I’m getting married in May and my future husband and I are spending a week of our honeymoon as volunteers. We both are so excited and can’t wait.

    • The Adventures of D November 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm · Reply

      Oh, wonderful!!!! It is amazing!!!! Congratulations! I hope I am back around that time, too!

  5. Celebrity Cruises November 11, 2011 at 5:51 am · Reply

    Absolutley amazing. I always check this blog as it fascinates me. I would love to go and visit the elephants :)

    • The Adventures of D November 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm · Reply

      Thank you!! :) I am already plotting going back to the elephants. :)

  6. Sally Annechino January 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm · Reply

    Dana,

    My husband found your site – so exciting! We’re going to the ENP in February and can’t wait. Your pics and description were both charming and informative – love it. Thanks for sharing your experience!!

    • Diana January 4, 2012 at 11:18 pm · Reply

      Sally, I am so glad you found my site and you are going to ENP. I am doing an entire series about my time at the park. I hope you enjoy your time there as much as I did. Let me know how it goes! And, thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. sarah February 27, 2012 at 7:13 am · Reply

    hello, I am actually leaving for the elephant nature park this friday! start there monday for one week. can you give me any advice or tips on what to pack? I really hope im lucky enough to get to stay in the room you did!!! :-)

    • Diana February 29, 2012 at 1:50 am · Reply

      Hi Sarah, I am so excited for you! My advice? Bring Deet. Bring a flash light. Bring lots of comfortable clothing. You don’t need much else. :) Have the time of your life, and please give Medo a hug and kiss for me. I can’t wait to hear about your experience when you return!!

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