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Phuket’s first ethical elephant sanctuary

in Recreation by
Sophie Monk at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

“Bow your head. Show them respect. The elephants created this jungle. Where they made furrows with their tusks the rivers ran. Where they blew their trunks the leaves fell. They made all that belongs: the mountains, the trees, the birds in the trees. But they did not make you.” – Disney’s The Jungle Book movie

Sri Nuan elephant at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Growing up in Essex in the UK, my only experience with the majestic beast that is the elephant was on TV. Although I had travelled half the world by my early thirties it wasn’t until I landed on the tropical shores of Phuket, Thailand that I came face to trunk with these huge, intelligent animals.

In the UK I had been used to cats, dogs, and guinea pigs, and there weren’t any elephants in Antigua, Turkey or Greece, so when I first came up close and personal with the largest land mammal in the world it was rather overwhelming. I will admit that I was a little scared, not sure I had pachydermophobia, (the fear of elephants, adding to my word count with that one), but I was definitely nervous.

I have, of course, done what every tourist has done when coming to Phuket – book an elephant ride. So far in the ten years I have been in Phuket I have gone out twice. Both times has been a good experience, although not amazing, it wasn’t until I visited the new pioneering Phuket Elephant Sanctuary that I finally fell in love with Thailand’s national animal.

PHUKET ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

Located in the lush tropical jungles of Phuket’s east coast, bordering the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offers the most idyllic retirement for sick, injured and old elephants, all of whom have had exhausting lives, either in the logging trade or working in the many elephant trekking companies around Thailand.

Founded in a partnership with Mr. Montri Todtane, ex-owner of an elephant camp in Phuket, world-renowned elephant rescuer and conservationist Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation, and Louise Rogerson, founder of EARS Asia, the Phuket Elephant sanctuary is a tranquil home for these majestic beasts and a place where they can be elephants again.

Elephant tourism

ELEPHANTS IN TOURISM

After the logging industry declined,

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Koh Samui with kids

in Culture/Destinations/Families/Recreation by
pink elephant samui water park

Koh Samui, Thailand is not a big island – it’s just under 230 square kilometres, and much of that is still pristine forest-covered hillside – but it offers a wealth of fun and interesting things to do with kids.

CASUAL OUTINGS
Our list of child-friendly activities in Koh Samui begins with five easy excursions for the whole group. If a relaxed family holiday is what you want, you got it. If you’re up for anything, and looking for the best attractions and accommodation, keep reading ’til the end. 

1. Kids will love the Dusit Deva Cultural Centre, a slightly eccentric garden filled with creatures from Buddhist and Hindu myths.

2. Treat the family to a poolside Sunday brunch. Although there are several family-friendly restaurants in Koh Samui, our top picks for a gorgeous sea-view brunch with kids are the Four Seasons and Beach Republic.

paradise park koh samui

3. Take a trip to the petting zoo at Paradise Park Farm Samui in Lipa Noi, where you’ll also encounter exotic birds and other wildlife.
(IMAGE FROM FACEBOOK)

4. Visit nearby Nathon Walking Street Night Market on Tuesdays or the bigger Fisherman’s Village Night Market in Bophut on Fridays.

5. Samui Football Golf is a unique physical activity and all ages can share in the fun.

WATER FUN
It’s not a tropical holiday without some wet n’ wild fun for the whole family.

koh samui na muang waterfalls

6. Samui has a number of spectacular waterfalls. We love the Na Muang Falls where there’s a an inviting pool. For younger children, Lin Had Waterfall is most child-friendly. Please note both are not recommended during the rain season Oct-Nov.

7. Go island hopping in Ang Thong National Marine Park, which encompasses a cluster of islands. The heavily jungled islands are carefully controlled to keep them in pristine natural condition. A trip to them is a must.

Koh Samui water park

8. Splash and slide in the sun at Pink Elephant Samui Water Park in Maenam.
(IMAGES FROM SAMUIWATERPARK.ASIA)

ADVENTURE
Older kids and athletic teens with energy to burn have an opportunity to experience some thrilling sports in Koh Samui.

9.

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Baby turtles hatching on Lombok

in News by
Baby hawksbill turtle

More than 50 tiny Hawksbill sea turtles recently hatched at Elite Havens’ Villa Sepoi Sepoi on Sira Beach.

the most incredible experience

Many beaches throughout Indonesia are known nesting sites for the endangered sea turtle, which goes by the local name Penyu Sisik (and in Latin Eretmochelys imbricata). There were two clutches of over 100 eggs buried on the villa’s private beachfront grounds on the north shore of Lombok near the Gili Islands, and the patient team of villa staff did an outstanding job of welcoming these unexpected guests.

MEET THEM NOW:

The world’s population of Hawksbills is critically low because these special sea turtles were hunted for hundreds of years. They are considered a delicacy to eat and their shells are the best natural tortoiseshell material. Now, harvesting this species of turtle is outlawed in most countries, but they need our help to avoid extinction.

Hatchlings usually emerge from the sand during the night and instinctively crawl to the safety of shallow waters, guided by the reflection of the moon. Sadly, many hatchlings do not survive the journey from their birthplace into the water without help from humans, especially if they are born during daylight, because they fail to crawl in the right direction toward the sea or get eaten by seabirds and crabs.

The staff at Villa Sepoi Sepoi helped many of the baby sea turtles by pointing them toward the ocean and keeping another 52 from the two hatchings safe and secure on the private villa grounds. Once their shells become hard, the turtles are introduced to safe shallow pockets of the sea around the villa, and after approximately one year they are released into the wild.

There are some local organizations dedicated to the protection of Hawksbill sea turtles, and the local government also encourages individual conservation efforts. As a bonus, many of the villa guests enjoy joining in the excitement.

HERE ARE SOME OF THEIR REVIEWS:

“It was an unforgettable moment with you at the Sepoi Sepoi Villa! Marceau and Rosalie will always remember the little turtle, Sixtine and Victoire will keep the last of Made’s amazing pancakes and Laurent and Caroline have these awesome massage before the sunset. Thanks to all the staff for your smiles, friendships, we felt like we are at home.”

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Yachting on Phuket – Best charters for island-hopping

in Recreation by
Bristol Charter Infinity One speedboat

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience.”

In 2000 Danny Boyle’s “The Beach” was released on the big screen and it was the first time I had ever seen the beauty of Thailand. The crystal-clear water, white sandy beaches with palm trees, the hedonistic lifestyle – it was where I wanted to be. In 2007 the dream came true. I moved to Phuket.

At first, it seemed like the perfect island, having an array of beautiful beaches and an exciting and sometimes crazy nightlife. For the first six months, I explored Phuket from east coast to west coast, from north to south and found it to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Yet it wasn’t until I took my first trip out on a traditional Thai Long Tail boat that I realized Phuket is one of the many beautiful islands within Phang Nga Bay.

Phuket is the gateway to over 100 islands, each one easily accessible by boat and offering something different, from perfect dive and snorkeling sites, long white sandy beaches for chilled-out lazing around, and some with shacks that serve fresh tasty local food. It was after my first trip out, that my eyes opened up to the place I now call home, and how beautiful it is. That’s when island-hopping around Phang Nga Bay became my passion.

Each of the islands within Phang Nga Bay has its own uniqueness. There are the distinctive features of limestone formations that rise out of the emerald waters, the best example being Koh Ta-Pu (Nail Island) known to you and me as James Bond Island. One of the most famous islands in Phang Nga Bay, having been used as the backdrop for the 1974 James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”, now due to its popularly, it is also one of the busiest islands.

you might have (what my 5-year-old daughter calls) “boat hair” but you will have memories that last a lifetime

I have two young children,

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Mermaiding and Mermaid Tails

in Shops by

Mermaiding is the act of “becoming a mermaid” by wearing a mermaid tail for swimming, modelling or performance art.

#Bali and #Lombok in Indonesia, famous islands for diving and snorkelling among other tourist lures, are now also exceedingly popular for mermaiding.

Island Mermaids Swimming with a Pink Mermaid Tail in Gili T

Never heard of it? Not likely, unless you went to the same D-A-I-Y-E spa as Zoolander, you’ll recall his mermaid modelling photos (er, merman). Then a lot of models did it for Vogue in 2012. The Gigi Hadid of Bali Inka Williams did it in Komodo with the Island Mermaids team. And Cara Delevigne did it in Pan.

Bottom line, models love mermaiding. And now the rest of us can also have our very own sequinned or scaled mermaid tails and underwater mermaid pictures.

MERMAID TAILS AND FINS

Mermaid tails for children and adults are sold in stores and online. A huge range of products has become available, with prices from $30 up to $300 for bejeweled silver and gold mermaid tails.

BILLIE’S CANGGU
Jl. Pantai Berawa 150
Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Bali

ISLAND MERMAIDS
Bali’s first mermaiding company
www.island-mermaids.com

SUN TAILS
Mermaid tails and shark fins for kids
www.suntailmermaid.com

For safety, it is important to know which are mermaid tails specially designed for swimming, versus tails which may be intended as costumes for dress up only, so be sure to check.

MERMAID-INSPIRED SWIMWEAR

Tasteful women’s seashell bikinis, one-piece mermaid swimsuits and mermaid accessories are here. Nothing like the mermaid costumes of your childhood, sequinned nylon has been swapped for real seashells and high-quality Lycra.

Mermaid Bikini Set by Island Mermaids

MERMAID BIKINI SET BY ISLAND MERMAIDS; TOP: ONE SIZE FITS A-D; BOTTOM: S, M, L

Island Mermaids Pink Shores Bikini

HAND BEADED BIKINI BY ISLAND MERMAIDS; COLOURS: PINK, GOLD; SIZES: S, M, L

Island Mermaids Kerang Black One Piece Suit

KERANG ONE PIECE BY ISLAND MERMAIDS; COLOURS: BLACK, NUDE; SIZES: S, M

Thoughtfully designed, carefully produced and beautifully modelled, these swimsuits really caught my eye.

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