Let's face it: it's hard to find a souvenir these days that's a good symbol of Thai culture that's also not cliché. Usually we end up relying on buying a copious amount of Thai snacks, a virtually foolproof but not very creative way to impress our foreign friends and avoid giving them something tacky.
Well, that doesn't have to be the case anymore. We've found a great souvenir item that meets all the marks we want to see in a good souvenir, and then some. Located on the ground floor of the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel is the Elephant Parade boutique. There, you can find various collections of elephant figurines—sizes ranging 5cm, 10cm, 15cm and a few even larger in height—all designed by artists relevant to Thailand.
With over a 100 artists involved in the project, the styles available are delightfully diverse. From elegant hand-painted florals to cartoonish and even opulent designs, the elephant figurines are easily tailored to personality, making their gifting a truly personal affair. But the best thing about these elephants—which you can share upon presentation to your friends and family—is that they support our beloved but sadly endangered national animal. Here's how and why:
20 per cent of profits made from any outlet of the Elephant Parade social enterprise is donated to elephant welfare and conservation projects. The Elephant Parade is the brainchild of father-son duo Marc and Mike Spits. In 2006, on a visit to Thailand, they were touched by a baby elephant named Mosha who had lost her front right leg from a landmine. Marc and Mike wanted to help Mosha but in a way that was sustainable and helpful to the elephants in the long run.
The first-ever Elephant Parade was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2007. The event saw the exhibition of 50 artists' uniquely designed elephant statues displayed throughout the city. An auction for the artworks raised a total of 248,500 euros, which went towards the welfare of Mosha and her community at large. Since, there have been many parades globally, including the one in Bangkok in 2015 and one in Chiang Mai in 2016.
As Elephant Parades continue to be held all around the world—2018 will have seen three parades in three different countries—you join the cause by visiting elephantparade.com and the Elephant Parade store at Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel to find your elephant today. Don't forget to stop and admire the several life-size baby elephant models "parading" around the hotel as well.