more fun than farming …

Where do you come from? Surin, Thailand……  Have you always been a mahout? Yes……  Was your father a mahout? No, he was a farmer……  So how did you learn the skills of a mahout? I used to go and watch mahouts in a nearby village as a child. I taught myself. It looked more fun than farming. By the age of twelve I was training my own elephant……  Did you go to school? Sometimes……  What is your elephant’s name? Her name is Bua Thong (Mexican wild sunflower), but you can call her Thong……  How old is Thong? She is 21. We’ve been together since she was one……  So you’ve been with Thong for twenty years. Do you have a wife? Erm, with Thong I have two……  If you could be anything, what would you choose to be? A fighter pilot……  Who is your hero? David Beckham……  What was Thong’s occupation prior to you moving here? She has worked as a sales girl – selling bananas and sugar cane. But really she should have been in show-business – she loves to play basket ball and football, and always plays the clown……  What do you think of female mahouts? Yeah, cool, why not? I have no problem with that idea……  How would you feel if your daughter wished to be a mahout? What? Are you crazy? No way! I wouldn’t let her!

story from 2008…
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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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