About Thailand

Global Volunteer Network has a partnership with a unique organisation that allows volunteers to assist in an elephant rehabilitation program in beautiful Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. Join committed staff and volunteers in helping these intelligent animals readjust to life in the hill-country forests. Most of the animals in the program were maltreated prior to arriving at the project, often suffering from abuse, malnutrition, neglect or improper care. Some were rescued from the illegal pet trade and others have previously been exploited for the tourism industry. Your time here will be spent both in the forest observing the elephant's behaviour and in camp helping with a variety of project needs. The program aims to allow the elephants to live a safe, semi-wild life amongst a local hill-tribe community.

For more information, please visit the Thailand page on the Global Volunteer Network website.

Recent Thailand Journals:

Two days and counting….

 Posted by Karen Funk at 4:22 am  Thailand  Comments Off on Two days and counting….
Jan 052015

Getting ready for my elephant adventure in Thailand. I have loved elephants all my life and it is surreal to think that I will be spending four weeks in the jungle with them.  I am packing and checking the lists, knowing that I will most likely forget something important. Flying from Denver to LA to Hong Kong to Chiang Mai.  Getting there a day early to help rest and see some of the sites before the hard work begins.  I’ve been to Asia before, so preparing for the showers over the toilet, no hot water, and humidity. I’m so ready….


 Posted by Kristen Waddell at 11:17 pm  Thailand  Comments Off on Harvest!
Mar 072013

About every other day we go to harvest. The elephants eat banana trees and the top of pineapples in addition to fruit, grass, and some supplements if they need to bulk up. The Thai staff chop down the banana trees with machetes and we carry them to the trucks. Each day we chop them up to give to the elephants. I love seeing the elephants simply step on the thick terrestrial to break them open and eat the core, taking incredible strength! Pineapple tops aren’t as heavy, but the spines will get you

Harvest is hard work but makes the day go by fast.

Hard Work!

 Posted by Kristen Waddell at 2:15 am  Thailand  Comments Off on Hard Work!
Feb 232013

It has been one week working and I mean working! Though I have quickly learned that there are no typical days, here is a basic run-down:

6:30am: First feeding and cleaning – The elephants get  banana trees that we cut up with machetes, the leaves of the banana trees, pineapple tops, fruit, and some special things depending on their individual diets. We rake up leftover food for compost and wheel large amounts of poop away.

8:00-9:00: Breakfast

9:30: Second feeding and cleaning

11:00: Bath time! A few of the elephants have ‘lakes’ in their enclosures and can go in there to clean off and cool off. Otherwise we lure them with fruit, spray them down with a hose, and scrub them clean. They immediately throw dirt on themselves afterwards, but that’s just sunscreen and bug repellant.

12:00: Lunch!

1:00: Walk an elephant! Boon Mee will only follow if you have a handful of bananas, but Num Chok will follow vocal commands (something she learned working at an elephant camp most of her life).

2:00: Another shower and feeding and vet treatments if necessary.

4-5: Last cleaning and feeding

6:00: Dinner!

The volunteers also rotate house duty and doggy duty which entails clean up and care for the pet dogs.  All in all, I am usually exhausted by the end of the day, but in a good way that means I’m getting great sleep! The hard work keeps the days going quickly and really gives me a sense of purpose and confidence!


Arrival & Elephants!

 Posted by Kristen Waddell at 1:03 am  Thailand  Comments Off on Arrival & Elephants!
Feb 182013

Arrival After flying 18 hrs, passing through a few days, I’m here at the Wildlife Centre! My driver was waiting right where planned and on the 2 1/2 hr drive we chatted about English accents, Harley Davidson, and the fact that he started out being an electrician (an occupation he loved) but being a driver was more profitable. Then he asked if I liked Bon Jovi and put on an entire concert on the DVD player that came out of the dash. I went through the tour (led by Ana who is on her second stay and here indefinitely-so brave!), met the 20 or so other volunteers, had a delicious dinner, and managed to shower, figure out the toilet, unpack, and set up my mosquito netting before collapsing into an exhausted sleep from 8pm-5am.  I think I’ve reset my internal clock and am ready to work! It is hot, but beautiful and I love hearing the gibbons and other wildlife throughout the day and night. Elephants I walked an elephant today (See Puak). Even though they have fairly large enclosures, elephants are used to treking pretty long distances through the forest. She was somewhat reluctant to go, but on the way back we had to run to keep up with her! We feed them three times a day along with picking up their poop (yes, a wheelbarrow is necessary as you might imagine).  Every other day we either compost waste or harvest banana stalks and leaves which are their primary foods. There are currently 8 elephants and… exciting news… a baby elephant might be rescued and brought to the center tomorrow!  

Preparing for my GVN experience!

 Posted by Kristen Waddell at 4:34 am  Thailand  Comments Off on Preparing for my GVN experience!
Feb 012013

Two weeks to go and I’m preparing for my 6 week stint at the Elephant Refuge and Education Center (upps! centre, I mean. I have to get used to spelling it that way). I am very thankful to Global Volunteer Network (GVN) for facilitating this experience for me! Here’s what I’ve been doing so far to get ready: Plane tickets: I’ll be flying into Bangkok from Los Angeles with a layover in Hong Kong.  There will be a driver to meet me to drive me to the Refuge. This is great because I am a novice international traveler and don’t want Bangkok to take me! Immunizations: They aren’t required to be in Thailand unless you are traveling through an area with Yellow Fever. I went ahead with the recommended Diphteria/Tetanus and Hepatitis A. I’ve already had Polio and Hepatitis B vaccines as a child. Visa: Since I’m going to be in Thailand for over 30 days, a tourist visa is required. I went to the Royal Thai Consulate in Los Angeles. All the information of what I needed was on their website (http://www.thaiconsulatela.org/index.aspx) and it was very quick and easy to get! Supplies: GVN provided me with a checklist of what to take, which was extremely helpful. I love that my iPhone will cover multiple things on the list (hmm…now I better make sure it will work over there and that I can plug it in). Clothing: I’m heading to Goodwill to pick up some appropriate clothing. I’ll be looking for board shorts (the shorts I own are much too short for the work and culture), long sleeved tees to prevent mosquito bites, and possibly a pair of adventure pants. Packing: I’m hoping to fit everything in a 70L travel pack. I’d rather not check any luggage, so we’ll see [click here to read more]

Spa Time!

 Posted by Tiffany Werkowitz at 8:33 pm  Thailand  Comments Off on Spa Time!
Jan 112010

I just got in from the pool. We’re at the spa now and I got a massage and facial this morning (and a hot shower!!) Not a bad way to spend a birthday! Its amazing. We work really hard at the sanctuary, I’m always dirty, and live in the most basic environment and I’m loving every second. I can’t believe how much this place has changed me (definitely for the better!). I cried for the first time yesterday. While I had seen Meow (our tiger) before, he had just been laying around in the sun but when I saw him yesterday he was coming over to us for a head scratch. He could barely walk. This gigantic, powerful creature lumbered over to us, falling a couple times, but always got back up to try again. He was chained up as a cub so tourists could take pictures with him. He was so malnurished he has permanent brain damage. They didn’t think he would survive when he arrived at the center and Edwin, the owner of the sanctuary, had to literally teach him how to walk again. What makes it worse is he loves humans. After everything we did to him he still loves us. I wish you could see him. He’s so big and intimidating and all he wants is a cuddle. There is also a gibbon here (a small type of ape) that i have fallen in love with. His name is Bandit. He has only one arm and 2 fingers. He was born in an area that had a lot of toxic waste and was born that way. When they were developing the land, his family ran away but because of his disability he couldn’t keep up. He was thankfully brough to the center. With only 2 fingers [click here to read more]

Survived the first two days!

 Posted by Tiffany Werkowitz at 6:44 pm  Thailand  Comments Off on Survived the first two days!
Jan 062010

HI! I’m good but don’t have much time to write, My day off is on tuesday so I’ll post more then…it’s very beautiful here and a lot like camping. People here are great. the work is hard but its getting easier now that i am acclimating to the heat and time difference. I’ll prob only be able to email 1 to 2x per week. I’ll be going to the spa on monday night and all day on tuesday. It’s so cheap! They have a beautiful pool too so hopefully I’ll get something more than the farmers tan I’ve been getting. I’m SO excited for some pampering!! I’m pretty much always dirty but it’s not bothering me so much. I have 2 roomates and we’re in a decent size cabin with a bath. mind you, no sink or tub. the toilet thing isn’t so bad really, it flushes, kind of, just by pouring water in the top. my shower was interesting. Not winning any beauty contests thats for sure! I’ve been working with the bears for teh past 2 days. I love them!! you can throw dog kibble in their little mouths through the bars and they catch it. they just sit there with their little toungs hanging out waiting for the next piece. The gibbons are incredibly loud and naughty little things, but also entertaining. They think its fun to pee on you as you walk under their enclosures. One also likes to charge you for giggles. Yeah, funny. The tiger here is unbelieveable i was about 1 1/2 feet from him while he was just laying there, chilling out. Breathtaking. He had a rough life but looks pretty content now. The food is pretty amazing here too! There are a good number of vegetarians here so lots of veg [click here to read more]


 Posted by Tiffany Werkowitz at 3:04 pm  Thailand  Comments Off on Bangkok
Jan 042010

I’m finally here in Bangkok!! There was a good amount of snow in Seoul so we were delayed another 2 hours last night. Way too much traveling but so glad I’m done with that for a while! It’s beautiful and sunny here. Just had a nourishing meal of white bread with orange jam and tea for breakfast and waiting for my car that will be taking me to the sanctuary. Its quite a culture shock but everyone is very friendly. The hotel is nice enough, very clean but there is no shower, per say, just a shower head on the wall RIGHT next to the toilet. I could have sat on it while washing my hair. I’m still exhausted, as tired as I was when I arrived I couldn’t sleep, probably since it was like mid afternoon for my body…that or the rock hard bed…anyway, maybe I’ll be able to get a nap in this afternoon when I arrive. I hope everyone is doing well, I miss you guys and I’ll post more as soon as I can!

Almost time!

 Posted by Tiffany Werkowitz at 1:04 am  Thailand  Comments Off on Almost time!
Dec 232009

I can’t believe I’ll be leaving in 11 days! I have been really busy getting everything ready and have just started packing. While I’m really excited, I’m also a bit nervous but I guess that’s natural. I really don’t know what to expect! Well, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and I’ll check back in next week

Almost time to leave…

 Posted by Carter Faison at 11:52 am  Thailand  Comments Off on Almost time to leave…
Jun 262007

I’ll be finishing up at the centre Wednesday and leaving Thursday morning. It’s going to be sad going, but work has been hard and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to my stay on Koh Samet. I’ve booked a bungalow on the beach (http://www.thai-tour.com/thai-tour/East/Rayong/hotel/saikaewbeach/index.html) and am excited about a few days of solitude. I’ll be heading back to Hua Hin tomorrow night for one last night out with the volunteers – last week was loads of fun. There are going to be so many people (AND ANIMALS) I will miss; I can’t even begin to think about saying goodbye.

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