What can you bring home from a holiday, besides some wonderful memories?

You can buy a souvenir or a “I (heart) Thailand!”- T-shirt. You can take pictures with your mobile phone or press a beautiful flower between the pages of your holiday book, take a small bottle full of snow-white sand or hunt for shells and coral pieces on the beach. (Please make sure you are not doing this in a national park, of course!)

Or you can learn some skills that are special to the country of your holiday; in our case “Thailand”.

More and more hotels or agencies offer different short learning experiences to take home and surprise friends and family. You can learn the art of fruit and vegetable carving or how to make batik shirts and scarfs. These half day courses are often offered in hotels.

For a longer course, it will take you to learn some Thai cooking. Usually, it begins with a tour to a local market to go shopping for fruits, vegetables, herbs and the needed meat or fish.

Along with this usually comes a short introduction about plants, vegetables and herbs and how to use them and (sometimes) even the nutritional aspects of certain herbs.

Later you will prepare the food, have a nice lunch together…well…it hopefully will be a nice lunch…and receive some goodies like a recipe book or a certificate or apron.

Cooking class: the famous Som Tum (spicy papaya salad)

But it can get even more exotic than that. Some agencies you can actually make an “elephant drivers license”. You can be a mahout for a day and this is when an actual physical effort from your side is involved.

These 1 or 2 day courses feature a theoretical part, where you get lectures on the animals behavior and the history of elephants in the wild and as traditional part of the workforce in Thailand or the relationship this country has with its heraldic animal.

There is also an introduction into the commands of a real Mahout and how he leads the grey giant.

Afterwards you will meet “your” elephant and feed it.

Now, feeding here is not just “take a banana… put it in the trunk…eat!”. It is about cleaning and picking the right food and getting it to the elephant. Since an elephant usually needs lots of food, this is a bit of exercise.

You will bond with the gentle giant, bath it (also not an easy job) and take it for a ride.

Of course, this will happen under a close observation of experienced mahouts. After all, an elephant is no kitty cat, with up to 5 tons of weight, and not easily controlled.

After you went through this amazing experience, you will receive a certificate and of course you will have the memory of an amazing adventure.

Bathing an elephant- duty of a Mahout

But beware! You will be able to make your friends happy with a nice Thai meal but you might get in trouble with the neighbors if you think about housing an elephant!