Melai and Matanglawin made the best out of their Thailand visit, going to the Ayutthaya Ruins, Amphawa Floating Market, Sriracha Zoo, ghost markets, Rose Garden, and many other places.
For sure, the sights and sounds will stay with Melai long after she has gone home. But before Melai selected Kuya Kim's pasalubong and packed her bags, she made two last stops.
First, she returned to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo to check out Tiger tricks that would make your jaw drop.
Who would have known that ferocious tigers can bring a smile to your face? Every day, 20 tigers entertain guests to the zoo, performing tricks during Sriracha’s Tiger Show.
For nearly 10 years, Nina Supit and Tippah trained the tigers, which can now stand on their hind legs and even jump through flaming hoops. (A bit of trivia: untrained tigers have the ability to jump 15 to 20 feet to catch their prey.)
After visiting the tigers, Melai paid a visit to a place she could not afford to miss, because not only is Thailand known as the Land of Smiles and Land of the Free, it’s also known as the Land of the Elephants.
Why are elephants so important to the Thai? To find out, Melai went to the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo, which is dedicated to caring for elephants that have finished rendering service, are old, were rescued or injured.
Elephants are considered sacred in Thailand, where they are considered symbols of power and peace.
Melai had her hands full when she arrived at the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo--she was certainly determined not to miss doing the tasks Kuya Kim had lined up for her.
Although tiring, Melai admitted that she was very happy doing the tasks because it was her first time to do such things.
She rode an elephant with a mahout or elephant trainer, cooked elephant food such as squash balls with rice flour, bathed elephants in the river, and watched them play their own version of soccer!
Melai will certainly not forget her experience with the elephants. There is also a huge chance that the elephants she interacted with will remember her too. After all, elephants have the largest and most dense brains among mammals and have some of the sharpest memories among animals, too!
There’s also another event that Melai won’t forget (aside from also witnessing a man put his hand as well as his head inside a crocodile’s mouth)--her participation in the Songkran Festival.
The Songkran Festival occurs during the second week of April and is the Thai version of the New Year. This means that in Thailand, New Year is celebrated twice: the first in January and the next in April!
But what’s interesting is that New Year in Thailand is celebrated almost the same way the San Juan Basaan Festival is celebrated here in the Philippines.
As a sign of prosperity, good luck and well-wishing, people splash each other with water in the streets complete with an elephant spraying water all around!
“I’m so very happy talaga dito sa Thailand dahil sobrang mahal nila ang mga elephant. Inaalagaan nila, pinagluluto nila, pinaliliguan nila dito sa elephant world kasi nga may mga sakit na, may mga diperensya na.
"Over, over akong natouch. Na-attach na nga yung aking feeling sa kanila parang over, over ko na silang kamahal. Parang feeling ko sila yung family ko! Feeling ko para akong hero na nag-aalaga ng mge elepante. Pero sobrang the best na experience, hindi mababayaran ng pera,” Melai said about her experience in Thailand.
And that is why she cannot thank Matanglawin and Kuya Kim enough for sharing with her this special adventure. If she could, she would have packed an elephant to bring back home to Kuya Kim!
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Air date: May 6, 2012