Our Journey to the Elephant Refuge started early with an 8:30 bus pickup. All was well until I received an unintelligible call from China Southern Airline about one of volunteers’ lost luggage. 16 volunteers board the bus while Isabella, Silvi, and I hunt for Isabella’s luggage. It was to no avail. Luckily though Cambodia is cheap and the girls went on a bit a shopping spree to hold Isa over until her bag arrives in Siem Reap.
By the time we all arrived at the refuge it was lunch time and the volunteers were pleasantly surprised with what they had waiting for them. The refuge is fully vegetarian and currently grows 25% of all the food we eat (the goal is to get to 100%). We grow our own pineapples, mangos, papaya, corn, watermelon, eggplant, etc.
The afternoon started with an orientation from the sanctuary staff and a tour of the premises. The volunteers were checked into their bungalows, visited the monkey rehabilitation center, and toured the Conservation ranger accommodations before the machetes came out.
At 3:30 we started chopping up watermelons (hence machetes), and sugarcane. We then wheeled it all out into the adjacent clearing. At approximately 3:45 the stars of the shows arrived: The elephants. There are 2 elephants on the refuge at the moment and more will soon be on the way. Arun Ria and Kamlin are 2 elderly ladies in their 50’s. They were rescued from the Cambodian logging industry and now are living out the rest of their days as they were meant to on the refuge.
This was the moment that every volunteer was waiting for. Cameras materialized as soon as the ele’s came into view. Profile pictures were about to be made.
After the next hour getting to know the elephants it was time for them to go home to the forest and for us to eat dinner.
After dinner we watched 2 documentaries about the elephant refuge and the woman who founded it.