After a morning of elephant encounters we returned to HQ, famished and in need of a serious shower. Rich and I chose to split up our time at the project into two days so we could stay overnight. Elephants in the morning, volunteering in the afternoon and vice versa. This turned out to be an excellent decision but more about that later.
Our task was to build a storage room under the main lounge out of scrap teak that had been taken from a demolished house. After sorting out the wood pile (dodging hundreds of rusty nails), we got to work. We braced the walls, measured, cut and nailed the panels and had a great time. We also came across the actual biggest spider that I have ever seen in my life. I know I say that all the time, but this is a new record. It was the size of my hand at full stretch and you could see it’s individual eyes from quite a distance away. A local guy killed it with a bit of wood and lucky he did because apparently it was really poisonous! I know we’re all about animal rights here, but spiders just ask for it. They’re ugly, creepy, and poisonous. Not got too much going for them to be honest.
(I realise this is a terrible picture.)
After a quick wash, we settled down for dinner. Hands down, the food at Elephant Valley is the best I have had in Cambodia. No competition what-so-ever. Breakfast, lunch and dinner we had something filling, healthy and delicious all followed by fresh fruit salad. Mmmmm. The big communal table meant that everyone could eat together. Some volunteers had been there for six weeks, some for months and some just for the night, like us. Out of 12 people there were 8 different nationalities which meant for some seriously good conversation.
After dinner, we retired to the lounge with our new friends. The open air balcony/lounge room was the stuff dreams are made off. Hand-made teek structure, comfortable furniture, full bookcase and a stunning view.
The perfect place to relax, enjoy the sunset and cheat at a variety of card games. All with a cold Angkor beer of course!
The next afternoon, it was time to visit the elephants in another valley. These three beauties were permanent residents of the project, had gone through a great deal of rehabilitation and it really showed in their behaviour.
Unlike Bob, Onion and Ruby the day before, these ladies were tearing through the trees, ripping up branches and shoots, especially the wild ginger!
Thanks to the work of the team at the Elephant Valley Project, they knew how to play and wash and just be elephants.
Thanks to living the fist 60 years of their lives around people, they still weren’t afraid to say hello!
Both Rich and I loved our time at the Elephant Valley Project and could easily have stayed another month or more! Splitting our experience into two half days was definitely the way to go. The volunteering was more fun than work and staying overnight and meeting so many lovely, interesting people was also a massive highlight.
Our total experience cost a donation of $75 each including all food, accommodation and transport to and from town. All in all, it was a great experience and totally worth the money. Hey, it’s for a good cause!
I’d love to hear about your elephant experiences, so don’t be shy, share! X