“D,” my Dad said to me as I drove down Las Vegas Blvd. back in late February. “Where are you thinking of going to visit next?”
“I don’t know, Dad,” I said. And, that was the truth. I had no idea. For as long as I had been back in America, I hadn’t really thought about where, or better, when, I would next get my passport stamped. “I guess I need to think about it.”
In the car that afternoon, he and I tossed around some ideas, but my heart kept landing squarely back on returning to Spain and Croatia.
“Well, let me know where you plan on going … you have some miles left and if you want to get away for a bit, you should use them.”
For a few weeks my mind blossomed with the excitement of planning my return to Europe. I had it all figured out: I would fly into London, see Emma and some other friends in the UK, then hop a cheapie flight to Madrid, hang there for a weekend, fly over to Croatia and hit up Split and Solta to see Danica and relish in the peace and calm of her island sanctuary, then bop back over to Madrid, hop a bus to Merida to see my Spanish friends there, then bus to Lisbon for another weekend before returning to America.
It sounded chaotic. Perfect.
But then, I started to think … and think … and think.
Yes, Spain and Croatia are two of my favorites. But, those miles … I reasoned they should be used for a flight that was further away. To a country that I had yet to visit.
It was around this time I started reading “Water for Elephants” (after watching my love
Edward Cullen Rob Pattinson, in the previews for the film version). As I turned the pages, I found myself falling in love.
With an elephant.
Not just any elephant. Rosie, the other heroine of the novel. A smart, loving and abused pachyderm. And, I loved this fictional mammal. Often times, in the middle of a page, I would find myself daydreaming about spending time with her. Taking care of her. I know it’s fiction, but damn. I actually found myself aching when she was poked, prodded and mishandled.
And then, it hit me.
I want to hang out with elephants.
So, I did what any traveler would do. I looked into the area nearly half-way around the world that could accommodate this desire.
I started talking to my awesome travel circle on Twitter and Facebook, getting feedback on places to go. Within a few days, I had made my decision. I wasn’t going to Spain. Or Croatia. I wasn’t even going to Europe.
I was going to cross the Pacific Ocean instead.
Turns out, the place where I get to fulfill my newest dream of spending time with elephants is just outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I am not going to Bangkok. I am not going to Phuket or any of the other beaches. I’m not even planning on seeing sand.
I am spending a week at the amazing Elephant Nature Park as an Elephant Helper. Just typing that makes me smile and sends a shot of adrenaline through my veins.
Then, after a week there, I am just going to chill out and enjoy the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai (because all I hear about from other travel bloggers is how awesome it is there). And, my Best Travel Friend ever, Katie, is meeting me there for a girl’s holiday.
When I announced to my friends what I was doing/where I was going, I was greeted with a variation of this:
“You could see an elephant at the ___________ Zoo. You don’t need to go to Thailand for that.”
Oh, but I do.
The thought of spending seven days with these phenomenal creatures just leaves me breathless. On the park’s Web site, it says that people can stay longer than two weeks. And, I have to admit, it certainly has me thinking …
Welcome back to international travel, D. Welcome back.