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Outdoor Skål Meeting at the Maesa Elephant Camp

Outdoor Skål Meeting at the Maesa Elephant Camp

Reinhard Hohler
Photos: Marion Vogt

Some 50 Skåleagues, including members and guests, had an outstanding experience to ride on an elephant back to be a “real mahout” for once in their lives during the outdoor meeting of Skål International Chiang Mai and North Thailand on February 23. Anchalee Kalmapijit, Operation Director of the Maesa Elephant Camp, was a gracious host by welcoming the party for a late afternoon special elephant show, exclusively for the Skål members.

This elephant is definitely into painting dots only….

Most of the participants arrived by four-wheel drive land rovers, which were parked at km 3 on the Mae Rim-Samoeng Road and organized by the company. After the safari to the camp and a welcome reception at the Maesa Elephant Nursery area 7 km further on, there was a short demonstration of the performing elephants and the opportunity to ride an elephant under a mini mahout training program. There is always a native mahout, normally recruited from the Karen hill tribe, who accompanies each elephant.

Skål International Chiang Mai and North Thailand members and friends on February 23 with most participants appropriately dressed in Mahout Outfits.

The Maesa Elephant Camp was established by Choochart Kalmapijit in 1976, when there were only five elephants. Now the camp has now grown to 75 elephants. Interesting to note that elephants can get to 80 years old, like humans, but need 250 kg of vegetarian food plus 200 liters of water per day, unlike humans.

Should Junnapong Saranak, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Northern Office Region 1 ever think of retiring from his active post, this elephant would certainly take him on as his ‘personal mahout’, after the successful riding session.

A new attraction in the elephant camp is the Maesa Elephant Art Exhibition and the Art Exhibition Shop. Furthermore, there was a Palong Hill Tribe Dance Show, before the official Skål Meeting started at 7.30 p.m., when Junnapong Saranak, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Northern Office Region 1, gave a speech about the tourism industry of Chiang Mai.

Junnapong Saranak, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Northern Office Region 1 received an authentic elephant painting from MC Michael Vogt for his humorous and informative lecture on Tourism development in North Thailand.

Junnapong revealed that there are altogether 17 domestic and 22 international TAT offices to promote and do the marketing of Thailand’s tourism products. The Chiang Mai office alone has a staff of 10 and has to operate with a budget of 10 million Baht in 2006. The number of tourists in Chiang Mai is rising and will reach 5 million this year. There will be the Chiang Mai Travel Mart in October to attract buyers worldwide. Another exciting highlight will be the Horticultural Exhibition Rajaphruek at the end of the year, in connection with the 80 years anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Finally, an extraordinary buffet dinner catered by the Amari Rincome Hotel accompanied by wine – homnored the Skål principles of good health, long life, friendship and prosperity.

The next meeting of Skål International Chiang Mai and North Thailand will be at the new D2 Hotel in downtown Chiang Mai on Thursday, March 23 at the world-famous night bazaar.

To become a member of Skål International Chiang Mai and North Thailand, please contact Secretary Eleanor Hardy by e-mail [email protected]

‘Come on, let us check if you have some bananas hidden in your shirt and trousers’. Mark Bradford, GM of Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort is ‘body-searched’ by a group of elephants.

Toby Allen from the Chiangmai Oasis Spa all smiles during the Mahout Training Course

Welcome drinks and snacks were hosted by Maesa Elephant Camp for all participants.

Palong Hill Tribe dancers entertained during the night with traditional dances and shows.

Another highlight was the visit of the Maesa Elephant Art Exhibition Hall, to view the original Guinness World Records piece.

Probably the most romantic candle-lit outside catering ever done by the Amari Rincome Hotel, at the nursery of Maesa Elephant Camp.


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