Paper made from elephant poo? Yep, that’s possible! To be precise here, paper can be even produced from horse poo, buffalo poo, cow poo and coconut p.., sorry, coconut shell.
Bet you didn’t know that!
Elephant Poopoopaper Park is an interactive open-air museum park which just opened two years back and is located in close walking distance to Tiger Kingdom in Mae Rim, north of Chiang Mai. Although we first saw paper made from elephant poo at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka, it was the first time for us that we actually saw and learned how the paper is produced.
Upon entering the park, the staff immediately greeted and welcomed us. Khim, a lovely member of the team, took the time to show us around. The tour can be either self-guided or you can ask anytime at the counter for someone to guide you (at no additional charge!).
Visitors walk around the circular path – which is pretty much self-explanatory – along eight different stations, each describing one important step of the whole paper-making process through big, clear and logic signboards. In addition, visitors will also learn about the fascinating history of paper-making, from its invention in China to its evolution across the globe. Remarkably, despite the piles of elephant poo everywhere, there is no bad smell around the entire area. We learned that elephant poo in its dried form doesn’t stink – great stuff!
How the paper is made: elephants (or buffalos/cows/horses) leave lots of fibre in their poo as they don’t digest their food very well. First, the poo is dried for about two days before it’s boiled for several hours to completly sterilize it. Yes, you can touch the poo, it’s not smelly and feels like hay. There we said it – we touched the poo!
Then, the sterilized poo is put into a machine to smoothen it and colour is added (we learned that food colours are used). The next step involves tapping the soft mass equally on a board, before it is set in the sun to dry for a few hours. Once dried, you can easily remove it from the board, however, it’s a bit rough and not useable for writing. Elephant Poopoopaper Park also produces smooth poo-paper –which is ideal for writing and used for notepads, etc- in a small factory outside Mae Rim as a machine is needed for this particular process. All items are exported around the globe.
Our final stop was a booth where you can create your own notebook, greeting card, wallet or even passport holder for a small fee.
Make sure to try the coffee shop after your tour – recommended: ‘Poopoo Cookies’! Don’t worry, it’s not what you think, but it’s gonna be probably the biggest chocolate chip cookie you come across in Chiang Mai, probably even in Thailand!
The Poo-tique (yes, that’s how their BOUTIQUE is called) next to the entry offers awesome gifts and souvenirs.
All in all, Elephant Poopoo Paper Park is fantastic for everyone, whether young or old, single, couple or family. It features a great and entertaining mix of education, local craftsmanship but most of all –fun!
Elephant Poopoo Paper Park
Open: daily, 09:00-18:00
Entry: 100 THB (children below 5 years free of charge)
We have been thankfully invited by Elephant Poopoopaper Park. Opinions are as always our own.
Kian & Sri
Coming to Chiang Mai? Get our amazing eBook ‘102 Things to Do in Chiang Mai’ (Amazon):