Patara Elephant Farm Thailand – Review

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Although this post has no direct association with food, I felt it was important for me to share my experience of the Patara Elephant Farm, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Let’s face it – a tourist’s trip to Thailand wouldn’t be complete these days without some form of interaction with an elephant… the problem is – many of those tourists still visit camps that have been established purely for the tourist industry. This means that the elephants are not living in the right conditions, they are hit with various tools for simple commands and are often chained when they aren’t walking around the field, carrying their 150th visitor of the day.

On my recent visit to Thailand, I too wanted to experience the interaction process with one of these beautiful creatures, but I did my research beforehand. Evidently, I felt the mountain and jungle environment of Chiang Mai was probably the most natural habitat for elephants and so stumbled upon the Patara Elephant Farm’s website. After reading reviews (5/5 stars on trip advisor) I knew this was the place to visit.

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Myself and my best friend contacted the farm to book on for the ‘Elephant Day Care’ programme. I really recommend contacting them at least one month in advance – because they have very limited places that get booked out quickly. The day care is a half-day programme offering the same quality interaction time as the full day, but it focuses predominantly on the healthcare and communication skills for pregnant and small elephants. For me, this trip was to learn more about and be educated on elephants – not particularly to ride them, however you do still get to ride elephant along the farming area and river.

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Upon arrival, we huddled under a thatched roof hut and were given refreshments and a special ‘mahout’ outfit so that we could be easily identified by the elephants. We were greeted by one of the farms owners, Pat who began an introduction on the farm. Essentially, the farm has been in the family for many generations and they are dedicated to the well-being of the few dozen elephants that inhabit their property. Upon birth, each elephant is ‘assigned’ to a human and they spend their entire lives together. The villager’s main prerogative is keeping his elephant healthy and happy.

Pat spoke at length about the farm’s mission to rehabilitate the terribly endangered species. The poachers hungry for ivory tusks, circus acts and neighbouring attractions neglecting to care properly for these gentle giants. We were warned that if we ever saw an elephant with a metal riding seat attached to his back, that he/she was being subject to excruciating pain, if not permanent spinal damage. The more Pat spoke, the more it became obvious that this place was worlds away from a tourist attraction. Patara elephant farm is a sanctuary and their statistics supported that. In the 30-40 years the farm has been running, they have had no mutualities and over 10 births – one more on the way in a few months!

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We were split into two groups (around 8 people in each) and driven down to the camp, where a handful of elephants roamed about freely. Pat claimed his judge of character would allow him to match elephant to human based on our personalities. Interestingly, I was paired up with an adventurous 19 year old pregnant female called Bang. Only a minute into our first greeting, I was sniffed from top to bottom with her glorious trunk and started placing bananas onto her sloppy tounge!

Step one: feeding our elephants

Elephants are hungry creatures, therefore one of the easiest ways to make happy is to feed them. We were each given a basket of bananas and sugarcane, two of their favourite treats and taught the command “Bon” which directed the elephant to open their mouths so we could feed them. Once they had eaten, we would give them a pat on the head and say “Dee Dee” meaning good girl/boy.

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Note: be prepared to get your hands dirty!

Step two: elephant health check

As mentioned, one of the missions of Patara Elephant Farm is educating the public about elephants – and that they did! The following facts are just some of the ways that you can spot a healthy elephant…

  • Healthy elephants have dirt on the side of their body from laying down to sleep at night. Sick elephants will sleep standing up.
  • Healthy, happy elephants should flap their ears every 2-5 seconds
  • Healthy elephants should have moisture by their eyes. Elephants do not have tear ducts so they’ll constantly have moisture running through which keeps their eyes clean.
  • Healthy elephants produce fiber-rich, moist feces

Step three: cleaning our elephants

Cleaning the elephants was a two-part process. Firstly, we had to command our elephant to lay on the ground by saying “No-long” this allows for you to clean the dirt off of their backs. Using some greenery, we then brushed the dirt off of the elephant. Remember: elephants have such thick skin that you have to use a little force so that they can enjoy it!

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Once the majority of the dirt was removed, we then walked our elephant down to the water to give them a thorough clean. We climbed onto our elephants backs so that we could reach to scrub them everywhere.

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After we had finished washing our elephants, everyone lined up in the water for a group photo with the elephants behind us. Just as they took the photo, the elephants sprayed water from their trunks making the perfect picture!

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Step four: riding our elephants

The elephants were now all clean and ready to ride. The mahouts clearly demonstrated the best ways for us to mount our elephants which involved using their legs (ankle and knee) to climb up.

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One of the best things about Patara is that you ride the elephants completely bareback. This is much better for the animals in comparison to the chairs mounted to their backs.

We then embarked on a 20 minute ride in the mountain environment which was rather humorous for those of us with hungry elephants who gave us their own tour of bushes and hillside where they could have a quick snack!

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I cannot recommend this farm enough, aside from being completely humane with no bull hooks in sight – this is a once in a lifetime, educational experience that you get to share one-to-one with your elephant.

The cost of the trip was 3,800 baht per person which calculates around £70 and lasted from 1pm – 6pm. This price included the specialised training activity with the elephant, transportation to and from your hotel/hostel, drinking water and snacks and a DVD containing the most beautiful images and videos from your trip. Get booking!

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Thaikhun Oxford Review

Thaikhun

Recently opened to the public in May 2015, Thaikhun, Oxford is one of the newest concepts to come from the expanding Thai Leisure group, who currently operate over 11 restaurants around the UK.

The perfect description for the Thaikhun chain is; FUN, Quirky, Funky, Authentic and an exciting concept that incorporates the vibrancy of Thailand’s very own street food… in the locality of Oxfordshire.

The Oxford branch poses a new, casual dining experience for those looking to dine in the city centre, with an authentic Thai interior, an interactive open kitchen and traditional rustic surroundings – it’s even got its own tuk tuk upon entry! The dishes created by the Thaikhun chefs are utterly delicious and are bursting with flavours…

Massiman Curry

I would have no hesitation to recommend their Massaman Gai Curry dish, often ranked No.1 as the most delicious thai dish (and rightfully so)! Thaikhun’s speciality lays within this curry, flavoured with cinnamon and star anise, cooked with chicken, potatoes, onion and cashew nuts.

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So, what’s the story behind the brand? The Thai word ‘Khun’, means ‘your’, when you dine, you feel welcome, part of their home as you would in Thailand. Thaikhun is your Thailand – a place to remind you of amazing personal journeys or to ignite the dream of exploring a new destination.

One thing for sure, great tasting Thai food is at the heart of this experience.

Thaikhun

36 George Street
Oxford, OX1 2BJ
T: 01865 591 960

Introducing… Marmite and Pot Noodle Easter Eggs

Marmite and Pot Noodle embark on a classic PR stunt this Easter, by giving the general public the opportunity to purchase some brand-inspired Easter eggs.

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According to Unilever, “the Marmite Easter egg, which shoppers will either love or hate, combines Marmite with chocolate” and will be available in packs of four, at around £5 each from February. Pot Noodle eggs are set to be priced at £5 for a pack of six.

An interesting combination and arguably somewhat disgusting, but I can’t help but want to try these out!

Let me know your thoughts…

Credit to @PRExamples

World’s first ‘pay by poker’ restaurant

In celebration of the 2015 UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), a partnership has formed between Pokerstars and Jones & Sons restaurant with the creation of ‘All-In Kitchen’ – a pop-up style restaurant in Hackney, London where guests are able to pay for their three-course dinner and drinks by playing poker!

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Customers will be given a discounted bill, depending on how many chips they have at the end of three hands of Texas Hold-Em. Those with 10,000 chips or more after the three hands will get dinner on the house, those with between 5,000 – 10,000 will pay just £5 and those with fewer than 5,000 will have to pay just £10.

Alternatively, if a customer would prefer not to play, they can opt to pay £50 for their meal and a poker-inspired cocktail.

Credit to PR Examples

Bill’s – Covent Garden

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Bill’s is a deli/grocers/restaurant, nestled amongst the madness of Covent Garden. This branch in located in St. Martin’s Courtyard (very pretty) and also offers takeaway food.

Bill’s now stretches from its East Sussex home right across the south of England and into Wales. The St Martin’s Courtyard branch was the first in the capital and is now one of two in Covent Garden alone. Boasting a formula is clearly working – grocery-lined shelves and tasty dishes!

There aren’t many places in the area that suit so many purposes well – the broad menu and relaxed style suits many an occasions alike an early breakfast, light lunch, afternoon tea or a more substantial dinner and may I add that it is very suitable for pre or post-theatre cocktails!

I will enlighten you on the traditional afternoon tea (at under a tenner – £9.95, it’s a great alternative to nearby hotels) which combines a great selection of finger sandwiches, cakes and warm fruit scones, served with Bill’s strawberry jam and clotted Devonshire cream. This is then served either with a large pot of tea of your choice or
glass of Bill’s Champagne. On a student budget, there was no mistaking this value for an enjoyable afternoon with friends.

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The Underground Cookery School – London

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During my year on placement I was fortunate enough to work with some very incredible food clients, one of which being Prosciutto di Parma – hence my inspiration for this post!

On Tuesday 29th April, Prosciutto di Parma hosted a press cookery event at The Underground Cookery School, a venue offering fun and informal cookery events as a way of learning uncomplicated, delicious, contemporary cooking.

Upon arrival, guests were greeted with a glass of Prosecco and offered an aperitivo of freshly sliced Parma Ham and Parma Ham themed canapés. A highlight during the reception for the guests was to watch Head Chef, Carlos, freshly slice Parma Ham using the anniversary Prosciutto di Parma slicer. Later followed a guided interactive cookery session led by chefs from the school and guests were able to create the following dishes first-hand:

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Starter: Fresh Home-made Tagliatelle with White Truffle Dressing, topped with twirls of freshly sliced Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano

Main: Breast of Free Range Chicken wrapped with Parma Ham, stuffed with Tarragon and Cream Cheese on top of a bed of New Potatoes, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Spring Onion

Dessert: Meringue Roulade with Candid Parma Ham slices

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Guests then sat down to enjoy the meal with selected wines. Despite the tube strike, there was a great turn out with attendees from publications such as Delicious Magazine, Asda Magazine, Food Network UK and Great British Chefs.

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Excellent feedback was received from attendees who thoroughly enjoyed the interactive class and were able to understand the quality and versatility of the product.

Parma Ham is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product and is 100% natural. The drying process that Parma Ham goes through creates a ham that is very low in fat content, with many mineral salts, vitamins, antioxidants and easily digestible proteins. This means that Parma Ham is truly a food for everyone. Prosciutto di Parma is produced in the hills surrounding the Italian town of Parma.

The unique taste of Parma Ham is dependent on the traditional production process passed down from Roman times, carefully controlled by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.  Only hams that have passed stringent curing regulations approved by the EU can be awarded the stamp of the Ducal crown – a five pointed coronet logo with PARMA in the centre which is branded onto the ham’s skin.  The Ducal Crown is now a certification trademark.

For more information, please visit www.prosciuttodiparma.com @prosciuttoparma

TGI Friday’s will fly ‘mistletoe drones’ around their restaurants this Christmas

Heading to a TGI branch this Christmas? Watch your heads – Drones will be flying around the place fully equipped with mistletoe and a kisscam to catch all of the action.

The drones are set to be piloted by waiters and waitresses, and will carry a small sprig of mistletoe as they fly around the restaurant. TGI’s have said the idea came around because half of UK adults have never shared a kiss under the mistletoe!

Follow the conversation #Togethermas

via PR Examples