Asia Trip 2015, Thailand: Ran-tong Elephant Sanctuary + Temples

Hello, guys!!!!!! Happy New Year!!! :) I wanted to write a year-ender post but will save that for later. I'm in the mood pa now to work on my Asia trip backlogs. I know I said I'll finish everything before the year ends, but work and other personal errands caught up with me (huhu lagi nalang) so it took a backseat na naman. Make this and my upcoming posts as your 2016 travel reference nalang. Okie? Okie. Haha. 

Anyway, on our last day in Chiang Mai, we decided to check out this elephant sanctuary that Nico's foreigner friend recommended. We didn't want to go to elephant shows or ride them (like what Mich and I did before ung may bench sila sa back, we're very sorry huhu), so we booked a half day visit in Rantong instead. It was more than enough for a lifetime of experience. Stories and photos below!

We were picked up from our hotel (along with other tourists) and brought to this hostel where their office is located. We had to register and then we waited for more or less 20 minutes before our van finally arrived. Met a fellow Pinay named Josie! She's been working there for a few years now and she's married to a kind Thai-Canadian man who's also a guide in the sanctuary. :)

Rantong Office

Read brochure below if you want to know more about the camp and also the rates!
We chose the Half Day Visit for  1600 baht

Waiting for our van

Tambay mode muna

outside the hostel

would love to stay here next time!

Camp was a 45-minute drive from the city. This was our van!:)

Stairs leading to the sanctuary


Closer look:)

Our tour group being briefed by our guide!

We were each given a bunch of bananas...

... so we could feed this beautiful elephant!

He was so happy and excited (pati si Nico o)...

...and he ate them all! Such a cutie:)

Emmy! :)Napadaan lang sha:)

My turn! Was a little scared at first, but got the hang of it after a little while! They're so sweet:)

So cute this kid!

Naddict na si Nico sa elephants ano na?

After feeding some elephants outside, we were then called inside to get our camp clothes and for some more briefing...
Our guide Jo! He's super nice and we still keep in touch via Facebook! Can't wait to go back and visit your newly opened resto! Congrats, too!:)

Camp clothes for girls and boys!

Guests are encouraged to change into their provided outfit. It makes the experience more fun and legit! Immersion ika nga. Haha. :) It's also to preserve your own clothes (you will get muddy and wet), so you'd have something to change into after taking a shower. Yes, they also have showers which you can avail to freshen up after the tour. I brought extra undies and extra clothes to be sure. They have lockers where you could keep your things!:)

More elephants

Nico having a chat with Rantong's super cool guide, JB! Who's also Josie's (the Filipina who I met at their office) husband. :)

Laro pa more si kuya hehe

Close encounter! Sobrang saya lang ni Nico. 

Jo teaching us some action words! 

Nico's a spoiler:) 

Such a beautiful creature

Then, it was finally time for our short elephant ride! No saddles, don't worry. :)
Elephant ride ramp

Didn't want to ride the super tall elephants, so when I saw Emmy, I knew she was the one!:)

I think she chose us too:)

our new friends from canada

Here's us with our girl, Emmy!:)

I was so worried that me might be too heavy for her (i'm only 100lbs. but still!), but our guide told us they can carry TONS of weight. I was still worried though. 

we had to go up some steep hills! Was panicking a little 'coz I thought I would fall off. Haha.

It's scary at first but once you get your legs positioned, then you'll be fine. Expect your legs to feel sore after. Worth it naman.

muddy trail

Elephants are such tender, sweet and smart creatures! They understand commands and climbing was a breeze. They know where to position their feet. So amazing:)

I was constantly rubbing Emmy's back and I don't use the rope tied around her (which one should hold on to so as not to fall off) as much as I can. Was also constantly adjusting myself on her back, lifting myself up once in a while.  



The struggle is real. The mahouts or elephant trainers/guides were very helpful and you could really see and feel how they care for the animals. I never saw any of them use force, sticks or harshness when dealing with them. They do shout sometimes. :)

Finally, it was time to bathe our elephants!!!

The water was muddy and murky and there were elephant dung or poop in it, but whatever! It was so much fun. Best part of the whole experience:)

Our little Emmy enjoyed her bath! Seryoso ako sa pagpapaligo sa kanya o. More, more kuskos ako. Haha.

Awww, we love her. :)

This fun activity lasted for about 15-20 minutes before we were called again. I had a hard time climbing on Emmy's back, so I just used the bathing pond ramp instead. Hihi. We then took a short ride again going to the main area where we had our group photo and said our sweet goodbyes. 

Such a fun bunch! From our tour mates, mahouts, guides, elephants. Everyone was so sweet and nice and friendly. Love them:)
You would spot Emmy agad... coz of her spots! She also has these unique ears. :)

Clingy much

After saying goodbye to Emmy, we were given a few minutes to shower before meeting up again for lunch. They also have towels in the camp which you can use. Brought our own though! Was not sure at first if meron sila. Shower room is basic (parang asa beach ka lang) and there were insects inside. It was not a  problem though! Magkakaproblema lang naman if may ipis dun. Haha. Even made a friend, this super tiny frog, who was there watching me until I was done. Mejo manyak. Hahaha.

Khao Soi for lunch! It was delicious.

Our view

Our group with our awesome guides!:)

After eating, we were escorted to this area where some of the elephants make tambay...
So cute this baby elephant! It has a chain on its leg but it's not really chained to anything. This baby was just walking around freely. They chain them sometimes to prevent them from wandering too far.

You have the option to purchase your photos taken by their in-house photographer. It was quite expensive for me so didn't avail na. Besides, the photos taken by our mahout were all nice!:)

While waiting for our tour mates (who were waiting for their photos)...

Hello again, Emmy!:)

Bonding time muna again with our favorite girl:)

Such a beauty:)

We can't let go. Huhuhu.

Our time there may just be short, but it sure was super sweet. I would love to visit this wonderful place again, with friends and family. :) Seeing these gentle creatures happy and well taken care of makes the fee worth it. It goes to the rehabilitation and maintenance of these elephants. Someone commented on my IG post that the mahout looked like he was holding a bull hook-- he was not. The only thing they were holding during our elephant ride was a bamboo stick, to help stabilize themselves while climbing the steep and slippery hill. I did not see any of them hurt the animals or physically reprimand them. Not once. There might be slight shouting or nudging, but that's about it. I don't know what's going on behind closed doors, but I'm pretty sure it's the same treatment we all saw that day. :) 

Top & pants from Chiangmai market, Herschel bag, H&M hat, Primadonna sandals, 

Super handy HERSCHEL shopping bag which I brought everywhere! 

Our tour ended a little past 12pm. Once we were back in the city, Nico and I decided to walk around and explore some temples. ;)

1st stop: Wat Pan Tong 
The temple was super near our hotel. Just a few meters walk on the main road.

We were not able to go inside the temples because there was an ongoing Buddhist worship

Rode a tuk-tuk going to the old walled center of the city where the other temples are located

Saw this on the way-- a bar for legit bikers! I see lots of Harley Davidson :)

2nd Stop: Wat Phan Tao
i waited for them to leave but keri na din. Art na din sila sa photo. Haha.

Hiiii :)

Over the door is a gilded pelmet showing a striking image of a peacock over a dog, representing the astrological year of the former royal resident's birth :)

This temple & monastery has an enormous prayer hall supported by 28 gargantuan teak pillars and lined with dark teak panels.

Enshrining a particularly graceful gold Buddha image. 

Main Viharn


Originally the living quarters of Wat Chedi Luang's monks. Renovated in 1796 by King Kawila of Chiang Mai. Most beautiful teak viharn used as Palace in 1846.

Ornately carved wooden Ku, a Buddha throne used to enshrine important Buddha images

new career? haha!

3rd Stop: Wat Phra Singh
Wihan Luang

Wanted a nice photo but there were repairs being made

Entrance to main wihan

Had to borrow a robe coz I was wearing a sleeveless top

I was surprised that may general assembly of monks inside

Never seen this much monks in one place, so I was so elated:)

Turn your feet away from the Buddha if you're going to sit inside. Stay silent too. :)

4th Stop: Wat Chedi Luang
Located in the same compound as Wat Phra Singh

This temple must be at least 600 years old! It initially consisted of two more temples named Wat Ho Tham and Wat Sukmin, and were merged into one. It features a massive chedi (or pagoda/stupa)  that was originally at least 85 meters but unfortunately got destroyed by an earthquake in the 1600s or by cannon fire during the recapturing of Chiang Mai by the Burma in the 1800s. The chedi was created by King Saen Muang Ma to enshrine the ashes of his father. It also once housed the most famous and most revered Emerald Buddha for a century. The Buddha is now in Luang Prabang, Laos.

A replica of the Emerald Buddha was placed in one of the houses of the chedi

We saw the chedi being restored while we were there. Can't wait to see this magnificent and powerful place in all its restored glory. Soon!:) 

behind Wat Phra Singh's main vihar

OOTD pa more hehe. Feel na feel ko my outfit:) Thanks Nico for styling me! Hihi.

Wasn't able to walk around some more and explore the temple grounds because it was super hot and we were so hungry. :(

Will try this out next time!

Forgot what this temple is called but it's beautiful. Saw it while were walking on the street:)

More buddha


Meeting ng monks. May stalker sila sa labas hehe

Common thing in Chiang Mai. Pagodas everywhere.

Streets of Chiang Mai

Gorgeous ice cream vendor

After 20 minutes of walking up and down the street, looking for someplace to eat, finally found THE one! The resto is called ALWAYS CAFE' and it's located on the left side of the road from the temples...
Our table hihi

Here's their menu. Prices are affordable!

What we ordered:) I got fried shrimp and Nico got this meal with pork. So delicious!

best watermelon shake ever

so happy with our food! also love the ambiance and that they have free wifi!

After eating, we went back to our hotel, showered, packed our bags, checked-out and went straight to the bus terminal! We were a little early for our 7pm bus schedule so we went to Mcdo to buy snacks muna. Bus arrived on time naman.
Our 400 baht bus to Bangkok! It's also coach but only 1st class.

Seats are not as comfy compared to the bus we took from Bangkok, but it was tolerable:)

they also gave us snacks and blankets

was so tired i fell asleep the whole trip kahit mejo matagtag 

I could say that Chiang Mai was definitely one of the highlights (aside from Bagan) of our whole Asia trip!I really fell in love with the place, the people, the food, everything. We vowed to come back as soon as we can. Hope I could bring my family here this year. Fingers crossed! :) Thanks for reading my forever lengthy posts! Wag kayo magsawa ha?:)

Bangkok post next!!! Abangan:)

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