“Just follow the poo” she said, pointing to the giant balls of elephant poo in the middle of the gravel path. I laughed out loud, wondering if she knows how funny she sounds? Honestly, the only reason I even walked into the park, was to check out the funny sign for “Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park.” I figured Lynnette and the kids would get a kick out of it.
Located just a few feet from Tiger Kingdom (30 min scooter ride, north of Chiang Mai) with ample parking though free from giant tour buses. Yes! A few tourists were in a lively conversation as I passed them at the entrance gate. Seems I wasn’t the only one checking out all this poo-poo talk. After a quick conversation with the friendly staff, my guide and I started following the piles of poo. The grounds were beautifully but naturally landscaped, with a large pond, several bamboo huts hosting activities and information about poo and the story of making paper.
My guide, who’s name I never asked (oops!) demonstrated the many steps of making paper from poo. Since they don’t have elephants on the property, they supply surrounding elephant camps with food, which in return produces lots of poo. The poo is scooped up into large bags for transportation. Back at the park, the poo is spread out to dry. During the next few hours, the poo will go through a lengthy cleaning process. First boiled for 6-8 hours, then washed in 4-5 separate cleansing tanks, then laid out to dry again. What follows, is pure plant fibre. You see, Elephants eat a lot, and poo alot, which also means that the plant fibres are in ‘good condition’.
As we walk to the next station, I recognize a pulp machine from my days in college, where we made paper similar to the way shown at the park. Thankfully we didn’t have to scoop elephant poo to get our base : ) Food coloring is used to dye many colors of paper poo balls. Since this is an interactive park, I grabbed a purple poo ball and tossed it into the mesh screen, sitting in a shallow basin. One of the local girls helped spread the pulp around, to make an even sheet. We then set out the wet screens to dry.
After a quick stop for water, we walk through the next few stations, where local women are decorating poo poo paper goods. Passport covers, book covers, cards and bookmarks were laid out, with pre-cut shapes of elephants, flowers and other animals. The day before, one of the local international schools came out for a field trip, which I bet was a fun activity for the kids.
To complete my elephant poo poo park experience, I enjoyed a giant elephant poo poo chip cookie and papaya smoothie. I was delighted in the very lush flora, mainly red Bird of Paradise and purple-ish ground cover. What a delightful experience, one of my favorite so far. The entry fee was a mere B100/$3. The company behind EPPP, has a factory making paper goods from elephant poo paper, sold globally.