Please see below for an email I sent to staff at Travellers Worldwide two years ago when I was midway through my time in Surin, Thailand
Now I've got a few spare minutes I'm able to sit down and get this message out to you. In one word; Fantastic!
From the moment we were met by Glenn at the airport in Bangkok to right now, about half way through our two-week stay at the project... we've been very well looked after and have had an amazing time.
Glenn was fantastic, ready and waiting for us, took care of our travel arrangements to get to the hotel, then from the hotel to our meeting point on Monday morning. Not only was he very informative, but really friendly too. Great, great guy
The hotel we stayed in in Bangkok was just what we needed, huge beds, friendly staff and air conditioning :D
Because there were so many of us making our way from the meeting point to the project, we had our very own private van/bus to take us there. We were blown away, this new shiny vehicle looked mostly like a space ship and was very comfortable and a great way to get to know our fellow volunteers, as we had plenty of time to chat on the long journey.
Upon arriving in Surin, the experience hasn't stopped. From our cute little house up on stilts, with a fridge, fan, mosquito screen and a hammock downstairs. The showers and toilets are pretty basic but they're all we need and you've got no complaints from me.
As for the staff, Pum and Alex, plus the mahouts, we could not have asked for anything more. They are so friendly, full of information, and always up for a laugh or a waterfight :) They are doing amazing work here, and I feel privileged to be taking part in it.
We've been lucky enough to be in Thailand for their New Year's celebration... so much fun. A three-day-long waterfight, which the elephants have enjoyed as well.
Which brings me to the main event! The elephant work has been hot, sometimes tough, completely unique and dirty. I have loved every minute of it. From just walking out onto our balcony each morning and being surrounded by them, getting up close and personal with a few of the more friendly ones, getting to feed them, walk with them, provide infrastructure for their future and washing them in the river.
We've learned a lot from Alex about the situation we have in front of us here, and why we're taking this method to fix it. I have so much respect for him and his team here, and I'm sure everyone will agree that he's just a top guy all round.
That about covers all the important stuff, so if you've got any questions just let me know."
As you can see, I wholeheartedly support the project and would recommend it to anyone with an adventurous spirit and a love for elephants. In terms of the rating I gave for safety whilst on the project (I gave eight out of ten) it purely comes down to remaining aware of your surroundings and having some common sense. I was thinking about giving it 10 out of 10, but I don't want people getting the wrong idea - you can and will get hurt if you do not pay attention to the advice of those looking after you. But if you keep your wits about you, you shouldn't have any cause for concern.
It truly is an amazing experience