at Friday, June 25, 2010 Posted by Mac

Lampang & Pah Leurat - Friday, June 25


Early Friday morning we loaded our bags and boarded our minivan for the four-hour drive to Pah Leurat. Shortly after 9:00 we arrived at the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang and, while I savored a cappuccino with my friend Richard Lair, Boosaba led the group to the pond where the animals were about to enjoy their morning baths.

Richard and I caught up with them at the performance center where the elephants demonstrated their strength and agility as well as their ingenuity in art and music. Richard arranged a private photo-shoot, and after the group had all ridden elephants he took us to visit two elephant babies. We spent some time there, playing with the babies and chatting with Richard, who then joined us for a wonderful lunch at the Reuan Pai restaurant in Hang Chat (ร้านเรือนไผ่ อำเภอห้างฉัตร จ.ลำปาง).

Richard, who is my age, saw his first elephant at the San Francisco Zoo when he was four. He says he knew right then what he wanted to do with his life, and is now considered the world's foremost expert on Asian elephants. Needless to say, much of our conversation with him was about the mysteries of these enchanting creatures.

After lunch we drove on, three more hours to the southeast, and arrived in Pah Leurat just in time for our first dinner from Boosaba's kitchen. This is home to my family and me. It's where Boosaba and her ancestors were born, and where Benyapa learned to crawl and walk and talk. (Thai is indeed her fist language.) My own rich experiences as a teacher here nearly eighteen years ago were both an epiphany for me and the nexus of Inside Thailand, and all of this is what we've brought our young guests here to share.

We will be very busy every day, but I will try to at least post brief updates or vignettes of our experiences from time to time, and eventually — when I have time — I will post dozens of photos.