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Pollyanna Pickering’s VIETNAM ADVENTURE


BE INSPIRATION │KNOWLEDGE


One of the highlights of Pollyanna's visit to this region was witnessing the remarkable spectacle of a million bats leaving Khao Luk Chang cave at dusk – an apparently never ending stream flying out into the darkening sky. Pollyanna descended into the same cave system to observe and sketch other bat species roosting on the walls and ceilings. While down there she also came face to face with some of the other cave residents – scorpion spiders and cave millipedes. “It is incredible to consider what a diversity of life lives in the dark – we so rarely have the chance to observe the unique creatures which survive in the cave ecosystem” Pollyanna commented.


In the light of day, the national park revealed a beautiful array of birdlife – including chestnut headed bee eaters, one of Pollyanna's favourite species to paint – as well as kingfishers and hornbills. Pollyanna also had ample opportunity to sketch wild Asiatic elephants, and some of the park’s primates including gibbons and macaques. She even aught a glimpse of a mongoose crossing the track ahead of her jeep! However she was able to get much closer to the elephants when we spent a few days volunteering at the Baan Chang elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai. The sanctuary is dedicated to providing abused elephants with the highest quality-of-life possible.


Staying and working at the park, we began our days by feeding the elephants – and cleaning out their enclosure. “We learnt how to recognize healthy elephant poo, and what dietary alterations were needed if the elephant's digestive systems were not working as they should be – knowledge I am sure will prove useful in the future!” Pollyanna commented. “We also learnt how to ride the elephants 'mahout' style – sitting behind their ears, and guiding them with a series of commands.


The highlight of our stay was riding on elephants up into the forested mountain behind the sanctuary. We stopped at the top of the mountain with our mahouts, who lit a camp fire and cooked rice and vegetables for a picnic, while the elephant were left to roam completely free in the forest. We could see the tops of trees shaking in the distance while the elephants tried to pull them down!” Twice a day we would bathe their elephants – riding them into a lake, and then splashing them down with buckets of water, while scrubbing their backs with brushes. “this was undoubtedly the elephant's favourite part of the day” Pollyanna recalled “and ours too! I don't think I have ever been so wet and muddy and messy in my life – as we washed the elephants they would gather trunks full of water and spray them over us as well! - but I also don't think I have ever laughed so much either!”


Into the forest with our elephant friend!


In the calm of the evenings and early mornings, Pollyanna was then able to sit with her sketch pad and enjoy this amazing opportunity to capture the character of the elephants in her sketch pad. And she has returned from her journey into Asia with a folder full of sketches and inspiration, which is sure to inspire an exhibition of new paintings in the coming months.


Pollyanna Pickering ‘Painter of the Living World’


www.pollyannapickering.co.uk


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