VOLUNTEER’S BLOG – January 2020


by Volunteer Alexandra Chiarella  

When I was told I was successful in getting a position as a Volunteer at Phang Nga Elephant Park in May 2019, I was over the moon. My welcome email read “You will be accommodated in a new Volunteers’ Hostel on site with air conditioning and hot and cold water. Separate rooms are provided for men and women.” However when I arrived I found that unfortunately the hostel was not yet quite finished and I would be  accommodated along with the other Volunteers in my own traditional bamboo hut in the Park near to the elephants. I was apprehensive at first, my main concern was no air conditioning and only cold showers available, but 40 other Volunteers had gone before me and let me tell you, I have never had a better sleep in my life!

I am so in love with my bamboo hut and I don’t know how I will ever return to a Western bedroom.  The features of my hut include a three brick step, a porch with shade, a door, two windows and electricity! Inside we are provided with a mosquito net, a fan, a 2 inch foam mattress, 3 pillows (one large and two small), a washing basket, and a bamboo rod that acts as a wardrobe. Some of us have plastic drawers also. I think I now have one of the more glamorous huts as I have spent quite a bit of time modifying it to my needs.

I have a short bungee cord that keeps my door open to let in the breeze and I hang towels on each side of my porch for privacy. My head bands hang on my door, a much needed accessory for a woman with curly hair in the Thai jungle.  Just inside my door I have a small clip and dry hanger that keeps my swimwear fresh. On a diagonal, my “wardrobe” gives me somewhere to hang my many clothes (yes of course I over-packed!). You must keep your clothes on hangers in the jungle otherwise the humidity  will turn them mouldy. Below my wardrobe are drawers in which I keep my personal items such as under garments and clean towels. On the left of the hut is my sleeping area. We are provided with sheets and a blanket that get washed locally fortnightly (spoilt I know).

Previous Volunteers warned me to always keep my mosquito net zipped up to avoid unwelcome guests. It looks like a mesh tent and reminds me of camping. It is my safe space, away from spiders, ants, chickens, cats and other inquisitive creatures as well as the obvious mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, at the moment, I am sporting a bright green cast that is protecting my fractured wrist. My family were NOT surprised when I told them I had fallen off my hut porch. My porch is about a metre high and is level with my hip. Even with the brick steps, it is quite a step up for me as I am only 5 feet tall. One night on my way to bed, with my back pack on, I lost my balance and fell backwards onto my wrist. But worry not, I am completely fine and am enjoying the ladies doting over me. I have been warned to be more careful, if I break another limb I will be unable to volunteer and we can’t have that!