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Tag: Chiang Mai

Home: Love, Solitude, and Spirituality

I can’t remember exactly when the last time I watched a Thai film in theatre was. If my writings accurately tracked my film-watching history, the last Thai film I saw before yesterday would be Love, Not Yet, back in September 2011.

The film I watched yesterday was Home: Khwam Rak, Khwam Suk, Khwam Song Cham (lit. Home: Love, Happiness, Memory). It is the latest feature film by Chookiat “Ma-Deaw” Sakveerakul, the director of The Love of Siam. I didn’t really pay attention to Home’s promotional media, couldn’t even remember seeing the trailer. Yet, I got the theme that it wouldn’t be just another featherweight teen love film. The most important driving factor, though, was the fact that it was Chookiat’s film. Apart from The Love of Siam, his only other work I saw was 4 Romances (Fan Wan Ai Chup), in which he directed a short film in the four-short-film project. I don’t watch horror films, so the rest of his works are pretty much ruled out for me. Still, I had a feeling that Chookiat’s film would go well with my taste.

Well, I wasn’t really wrong. It was worth my time. I’m still not sure if it would have a chance to go into the list of my all-time favourites, but at least I feel it’s “about right”.

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Sadness at the Elephant Park

Taken from Elephant Nature Park, 2 June 2009.

I never really thought that elephant shows could make me feel sad. I am not the animal rights type, and not even one of those animal lovers, but those cute shows at an elephant park in the province of Chiang Mai actually made me feel down, probably thanks to another elephant park and my friend who introduced it to me.

Last June, my Finnish friend Arttu visited my country. Before he actually arrived, he told me that he wanted to see elephants, and sent me a link to an elephant park. Naturally, I thought it was one of those parks which were very common in northern Thailand. After reading through the site, I realised I was wrong.

It was the site of Elephant Nature Foundation, who operated the Elephant Nature Park. The Park promoted itself as the sanctuary for elephants, providing a safe home for rescued elephants. They claimed to “allow people to see elephants as elephants should be seen”, with no hooks, chains, painting with their trunks, kicking a football, or whatsoever.

I admit that I was first struck with the 2500 THB fee for a full day visit, which I found out a bit later that I was exempted as a Thai national, but the visit struck me even more, with the elephants in the way I never really saw before. Before that, my experience with elephants included seeing them on streets in Bangkok and seeing them painting on TV. I probably also visited an elephant park once, but I could not really remember about it much. There, I saw elephants eating, roaming through the field, splashing the water, and putting the sand on themselves to cool down. All we did there were feeding them, washing them, watching them, and taking photographs of them. Riding an elephant could be an exotic experience, but be beside it was also wonderful.

One year of studying in Bangkok did not evoke my memory from the Nature Park. It is today, at another elephant park, that I actually felt that my short visit at the Nature Park one year ago really affected me. I could not enjoy seeing elephants on the show ground. The only I could really think was about how much conditioning had been put on those elephants before they could perform bowing, painting, kicking the balls, playing the darts, etc. I am not saying that the park abuse those elephants since I do not see the actual training. The park might be the best of its kind, with humane training and all. Nonetheless, I could not felt the pleasure any more.

Maybe I am too sensitive. Maybe Elephant Nature Foundation actually brainwash people. Maybe the elephant training is not that harsh. Maybe animals are actually meant to be used. I really don’t know.

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