Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Big Summer Adventure

This summer I traveled all the way to Chaing Mai, Thailand for a veterinary program through Loop Abroad. During the first week, I stayed at ENP (Elephant Nature Park), which is a rescue sanctuary for approximately 40 Asian elephants. Many of these elephants were landmine victims, abused, and/or logging and trekking workers. These amazing creatures are being given a second chance at a better life. While there, I prepared the elephants’ meals, created medicine balls out of hundreds of bananas, cleaned and treated an elephant’s abrasions, went tubing down a river, visited a village school, bathed elephants, cut down corn stalks with a machete, scooped elephant poop, and attended a Thai culture class.

During the second week, I stayed at the Spicy Thai Hostel, located in the true city of Chaing Mai. Most days consisted of driving out to ARC, a dog/cat shelter, to learn about some aspect of veterinary care. I learned how to draw blood for the first time, how to find and calculate a heart rate and respiration rate, how to diagnose and treat common canine/feline diseases, and how to carry out a heartworm test. I also observed a leg surgery that was done on a dog that had been presumably cut with a machete, as well as an eye surgery that was done on another dog that was unable to fully open its eyes. Lastly, I assisted in two neutering surgeries, one of a dog and one of a cat. For the dog neutering, I administered a pre-anesthetic before operating and then scrubbed in for surgery. Needless to say, it was very hot wearing latex gloves, a face mask, and a hairnet in Thailand’s summer climate, without air conditioning.

In our free-time, we were able to experience Thailand’s culture by going to more tourist-like attractions. We visited the night markets, a couple of malls, various Thai temples, and an orchid and butterfly garden. We also hiked up Doi Suthep Mountain (took 3.5 hours!), watched a cabaret show, swam in a waterfall, released paper lanterns (like in the Disney movie Tangled), stayed at a Thai hotel, and walked through underground caves. One of my favorite things we did that week was visit Tiger Kingdom, a tiger reserve, where we were able to interact with tiger cubs, as well as full grown tigers.

From having two flights cancelled and having to drive all the way up to New York, to sitting on a fourteen hour flight, to meeting amazing people from all over the world, this trip was absolutely amazing and something I’ll never forget. 

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