Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Elephants at Maesa Elephant Camp, Chiang Mai Thailand

MY LETTER TO THE NY TIMES

Dear NY Times:

When I first saw the article "Caution: Elephants Brake for Food on Bangkok's Roads" written by Mr. Thomas Fuller, I was very excited. I have been living in the United States for ten years and any reminiscence of my home, Thailand, is a joy for me to see and read. However, I was disappointed with the article after I read it. Mr. Fuller wrote the article from a perfect journalistic perspective, which included interviews with the locals and concise historical research. However, as a Thai woman who grew up in Bangkok and then lived in Khao Yai National Park where the majority of elephants reside peacefully in their own habitat, I feel that Mr. Fuller's article was a bit superficial and rife with stereotypes. For example, it would be nice to read something from Thailand without seeing words like "illegal activities", "fake watch", "pirated DVD", "red-light district", "a Go Go bar", and of course "bar girls". Yes, the article was about elephants in Bangkok, but there are many areas in Bangkok and other parts of the country that can provide Mr. Fuller with an elephant dwelling experience. Although I cannot deny that it is much quicker and easier to find news sources in the red-Light district.

Furthermore, the ending of the article is bit biased toward humans.
The article portrayed the elephant as "powerful, restless creatures prone to rebellion" and as "fierce" creatures. I grew up with a different view of elephants. For me, they are smart, gentle, and spiritual. In my opinion, it is not the elephant who is restless and rebellious. It is the human being who is powerful and fierce. I have written a small article titled "Under Elephants" (attached file) for your consideration. I hope that it may describe the more direct relationship between Thai people and elephants. Thank you so much.

Varinthorn Christopher