Saturday, September 29, 2007


By its very nature something 'jumbo' would denote largeness. As such children and adults alike would go for jumbo burger promising a full appetite. A jumbo aeroplane will of course take many more passengers than a 'Dakota' or a 'Cessna'.

During our visit to Chengmai, the second largest city in Thailand, a two hour flight from Penang, we discovered reasons that make the northern city in the hills a much visited tourist destination. Its cooling weather is a far cry from the hot steamy summer months of Bangkok and November to March rewards the visitor with near temperate coolness. Yet it is not the weather that warm us to the city but the jumbo artistry and richness of the northern hills. JJ our friendly Thai tour guide whom we came to know, guided us around the city and surroundings in his own car, visiting many parts of the city, which would naturally escaped us if we were left on our own. He is a Thai and married to a Japanese woman and had lived in Japan. As such he was positive in wanting to show the finer parts of his city.

The highlight of the visit would naturally be a 50 km drive north of the city to Lampang an elephant nature park situated in a river basin. As logging in Thailand has been halted and elephants as beasts of burden or at one time machines of war became redundant and unwanted, a sanctuary was founded to care for them. Here at Lampang in the Mae Taman Valley elephants came to be rehabilitated. The sanctuary grew to become a popular tourist center.

Jumbo artistry as implied speaks profoundly of the elephant's genuineness at absorbing the training and guidance of its mahouts or trainers. At this absorbing sanctuary where you will see herds of elephants wander along the natural trails or perform acts or games for the unexpected throngs of visitors you can only marvel. You wonder how man has been able to train the jumbos or perhaps how the elephants have made man discover their true realities. Here elephants as a team play football. A bull perturbed that others failed to score goal, promptly pulled a ball aside and nonchalantly kicked a ball with its right hind leg into the net followed with a trumpeting of its trunk. Claps from the hundreds of spectators echoed.

More surprise. Mahouts handed painted brushes to their respective charges. Holding the brushes with their trunks, they deftly painted works of arts within minutes. Yes these are photos of artworks accomplished by the elephants, promptly exhibited on easels and offered for sale to the visitors. Framed artworks are also offered for sale. Don't be surprised that they are priced at a few hundred Ringgits Malaysia. A visit to this elephant sanctuary and more so if you volunteer to work at the camp and care for the elephants would be a rewarding experience. We understand the camp would take volunteers who want to work and care for the elephants.

As we lingeringly stepped out of the elephant sanctuary, we could not help wondering why pedagogues continue to grasp with theories and techniques and yet do not achieve success in the classrooms. Probably we can learn from the mahouts who display truly jumbo success.

The following photographs best describe what you will see at Mae Tham Valley.

Mahouts ride on the necks of the elephants said to be much stronger than their backs.
The elephants simultaneously greet their visitors by bowing.

The elephants with the help of their mahouts hold the brushes with their trunks and deftly paint their art pieces

Six art pieces were displayed. These were painted by six elephants in front of the spectators who exclaimed excitement and surprise. As they are displayed guests gathered to take photos and some offered to buy the art works.

In the verdant valley, two bull elephants are frolicking in the arena to the delights of the spectators. Put them up against My Team and it will be intersting to see how they fare.

Of course this is not the only artistic masterpiece that we came to know at Chengmai.



Easier seems to teach animals (namely elephants),rather than teaching human-beings.

Sukar nak memanusiakan manusia . Manusia mudah menjadi haprak.

Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

How surprising to see the resulting art work. Even I can't paint like that...