When I was a kid I was absolutely enamoured with elephants. I don’t know why, they were just always my favorite animals. This could possibly explain why for the last couple of weeks I’ve been obsessing about volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand with International Student Volunteers (the same program I went with for the sea turtle conservation project). The trip cost has gone up since I went two years ago, from $2,495 to $3,195 PLUS airfare (which is about $1,500 for Thailand) making it absolutely unaffordable for me. But I still kept trying to work out ways I could con my way into a trip and I finally had a moment of brilliance yesterday afternoon.

See, what happened was I remembered a little something from when Sofia and I went to Costa Rica: When we got to our volunteer site we found out that there were tons of random people volunteering there, not just people from the ISV program we were with. These people had just been trekking around Costa Rica when they stumbled upon the sea turtle project and decided to stay for a couple of weeks. And do you know what they paid for their volunteer time there? $75 to sign up with the project and $15 a day for food and lodging. For the two weeks we spent there (costing us approximately $1,250), they spent $285! Yeah, we got mega-screwed out of some dollars. So yesterday I began thinking: What if it’s the same case for this Thailand volunteer project? Can just anyone walk into the elephant sanctuary and sign up?

Oh, you betcha! I googled “Thailand elephant conservation” and found an awesome sanctuary where I can volunteer for up to 4 weeks at only $345.87 per week ($1,383.48 for a whole month). This price includes lodging and three meals a day. Then I went to the ISV site just to see which elephant project they had scheduled and it’s the same one. Woohoo!

Erm, so I’m going to Thailand this summer instead of my previously scheduled hike of the northern portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. My plan is to volunteer for two weeks and then spend a week or two traveling around the country. I can only get a 30-day visa otherwise I would have liked to stay longer. A month will probably be just enough to make me homesick though. Anyway, I just wanted to share the news because I’m so totally stoked about it. Yay!

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