This week I visited PooPooPaper Park. It's a cultural experience and eco-friendly, naturally built, outdoor museum that teaches about the production of paper made from elephant poop fibers. And there is an element of arts and crafts, as we were invited to create a Do It Yourself paper product at the end.
It was a fascinating outing to say the least, and was such fun! My friend, Amanda, and I laughed and learned and laughed some more. We learned all about the process, touched elephant poop and held naturally dyed elephant poop balls in our hands before spreading them out to make the paper.
We learned that elephant poop does not smell, as elephants are vegetarian. They eat huge amounts of food each day, which is why they are a good source of poop for the paper products that are made. Plentiful in quantity, the elephant poop is also the most fibrous of all the animals, so great for paper products.
After collecting the poop, it is first boiled in order to eliminate the sand and dirt and any other debris from the ground, where they of course poop. After boiling, the poo fibers are removed. The next step is for the fibers to be mixed with natural food dyes, water and a little bit of scrap poo paper, which binds the fibers and color. Then large palm-sized balls are formed that feel moist and heavy.
One ball is then placed on a large wood framed screen and mixed with water while the paper maker breaks up the fibers of the ball. The fibers are spread by hand, over the entire surface of the screen, being sure to fill in holes - much like baking a thin sheet of brownies or cookies and spreading evenly over the entire pan. Then, the framed screens are placed in the sun to dry - first almost horizontally, and then as they are partially dried, they are placed in a more vertical position to complete the drying process. Beautifully colored paper is drying all over the park.
When completely dried, the paper sheets are easily removed from the screens, and then they are cut into sheets for use in making all sorts of products - bookmarks, note cards, passport holders, address books, fans and notepads, to name a few.
Many children's groups and families visit the park, as it is a reasonably priced learning experience that is also lots of fun! The little cafe also sell large sized elephant poo cookies - not made from poop, but rather chocolate chips. And the fruit smoothies, salads and other snacks available are made from produce in their organic garden.
Believe it or not, they also have other types of poop items that are made from recycled Thai buffalo poo, cow poo, horse poo and other natural waste fibers, along with a variety of books, clothing and other crafted and fair trade products that align with their commitment to humanity and the planet.
I couldn't have imagined such an outing if I tried. What a memorable, fun and different cultural experience! Chiang Mai is full of wonderful surprises.
Sending You Love from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
I will be taking some time off from blog writing, in order to spend time visiting and traveling with my family. Back in a couple of weeks - Namaste.
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