Recently, we had a special weekend in The Golden Triangle of Thailand, followed by a great week in Bangkok. Over the course of the weekend, we were fortunate to host Gwen Robinson, Tetsuya Iguchi and Keiichiro Asahara of the Nikkei Asia Weekly who filmed some spectacular coverage on elephant conservation and elephant polo for Japan TV. It was great to blend the two concepts together which is actually quite natural as the elephants greatly enjoy the game and the polo raises funds for elephant conservation.
When you have a look at the cast of characters, you may wonder about the people involved. Actually, I am referencing the guy in The Elephant Story fatigue jacket and not the Nikkei team. However, you should know that Iguchi-san wore his Elephant Story jungle fatigue jacket throughout the two days of filming. A new high fashion craze is expected in Japan.
One interesting aspect of the weekend was asking the mahouts about their backgrounds with their elephants and their original homes. Most were second or third generation elephant mahouts and owners. Every elephant and mahout who was filmed that day, save Nong Denra mentioned below, was from Moo Baan Chang where The Elephant Story has adopted the primary and secondary schools of this small village, home to over 200 elephants.
Shown below is a soon-to-be one year old Nong Denra who was born in The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation camp though her mom and mahout family are from Moo Baan Chang. I envision that she will soon become a star on Japan TV.
Of particular interest to our Nikkei friends was the story of Yuki who was sent to Japan as a young elephant to become a Coca Cola icon. Despite the fact that the young elephant was named Yuki, snow in Japanese, she did not like the cold weather and was returned to Thailand. The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation rescued Yuki from performing a cabaret show in a seedy area of Pattaya, Thailand and placed her in a natural habitat in The Golden Triangle of Thailand. As you can see, the larger Yuki can still bring a couple together like the old cabaret days.
The following Tuesday, we met in Bangkok with the headmasters of the Moo Baan Chang schools, the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, The Learning Link language education group and village elders to develop our first English language education program there. The elder between the two headmasters in suit coats is not from the village but from Texas.