Posts Tagged ‘Chiang Mai’

And the winner is… Susan Allsbrook

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Congratulations, Susan Allsbrook! Susan won the Free Trip for 2 in Thailand from Intrepid Travel.

The Trip: Northern Thailand is among the greatest adventure destinations on the planet and this journey reveals why: hiking among hill tribes, sailing its rivers, and calling into friendly and colorful villages along the way. This 15-day journey will take her from the chaotic streets of Bangkok to the serene countryside and offer a glimpse into this fascinating country. Plus, during her adventure, Susan will visit the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital and meet Motala and Mosha, two of the elephants featured in “The Eyes of Thailand” documentary.

As promised, ALL DONORS WHO SELECTED THIS PERK WILL GET TO CHOOSE BETWEEN AN “EYES OF THAILAND” POSTER, T-SHIRT OR WATER BOTTLE. You will receive an email within the week to select your preference.


Monday, November 28th, 2011

Thanksgiving always causes me to reflect on what I’m grateful for, and this year I’m extra grateful for all of your love and support for me, Soraida, the elephants, the staff at FAE and “The Eyes of Thailand” film.

"The Eyes of Thailand" Director/Producer Windy Borman with the cast and crew of The Chiang Mai Project (Thailand, 2007).

In 2007, I celebrated Thanksgiving in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Little did I know that within a week that adventure would lead me to my next documentary project. Armed only with a video camera and an open heart, I visited FAE’s Elephant Hospital and the rest is history.

After three trips, 100+ hours of video footage, countless interviews, and priceless donations from friends and family, we now have a feature-length documentary that will help protect Asian elephants and call for the ban and safe removal of landmines around the world.

Thank you for joining me on this journey and I hope each and everyone of you had a Thanksgiving filled with laughter and love.


Windy Borman

Producer/Director, “The Eyes of Thailand”

New Prostheses for Elephant Landmine Survivors

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Motala and Mosha each received newly designed elephant-sized prostheses on November 9, 2011. (Photo credit: Soraida Salwala).

LAMPANG, THAILAND–On November 9, 2011, Mosha celebrated her sixth birthday at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital, and to mark the occasion, the staff of the Prostheses Foundation presented Mosha with her seventh prosthesis.

Dr. Therdchai Jivacite of the Prostheses Foundation presents Mosha's seventh prosthesis to Soraida Salwala, FAE's founder. (Photo credit: Soraida Salwala).

Mosha enjoyed her Birthday treats of tamarind, sticky rice, and bananas before test-driving her new leg in her pen.

Mosha test-drives her new prosthesis. (Photo credit: Soraida Salwala).

“Auntie” Motala, joined the festivities, too, when Dr. Jivacite presented her with her fourth prostheses. She walked over to Mosha’s pen to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Motala, wearing her fourth prosthesis, visits Mosha, a.k.a. the "Birthday Girl". (Photo credit: Soraida Salwala).

Mosha and Motala are both elephant landmine survivors and permanent residents of FAE’s Elephant Hospital. Mosha stepped on a landmine in 2006 when she was only 7-months old. In 2008, she received the world’s first elephant prosthetic, designed by Dr. Jivacite. A decade earlier, Motala stepped on a landmine; she received her first prosthesis in 2009. All of their prostheses have been designed by Dr. Jivacite and donated to FAE by the Prostheses Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Mosha’s and Motala’s journey is featured in the upcoming documentary, “The Eyes of Thailand“, directed and produced by Windy Borman and produced by Tim VandeSteeg. For more information on the film, visit:

FAE: An Elephant Hospital for Elephants

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Salee, losing her mind to her altered nervous system. Testing in progress. (Photo credit: Michael Wysocki).

By Michael Wysocki

We, as in all species, need our personal “sanctuary,” our peaceful place that we find even inside our aggressive yet stimulating cities. A place either by ourselves, or that we share with someone special. My sanctuary in New York City was the Harlem River, in Los Angeles its Venice Beach. You should know, FAE is not an Elephant Sanctuary, it is a Hospital.

There are a few blessed Elephants that can safely call FAE home; including Motala, Mosha, Ekhe, Auan, and just recently Bobo, that will live out their lives here in the giving hands of FAE staff, down the hill somewhat sheltered from the drama above. As for the rest of the Elephants, their days are full of syringes, injections, antiseptic soaks, enemas, and many other medical practices; balanced out with treats, cleanliness, and affection.

I made my way to Chiang Mai this past week to renew my visa, so I thought. I ended up having to make my way to Burma for a last minute “border run.” Yes it sounds fun, and is; even after four different bus rides. My time in Chiang Mai became a part of my journey to learn more, and I became reassured by my God that he is behind me. I experienced what a tourist would face as I wandered the streets of the old city, seduced by many attractions but refusing the most prominent, Elephant Trekking, “The ultimate jungle experience.” I stopped and read out of curiosity, gazing into the eyes of the Elephants. It was then I knew how different Soraida’s mission for FAE was from other Elephant camps here in Thailand, whether it be Trekking, Shows, or even Conservation Parks.

Win a Free Trip for 2 in Thailand from Intrepid Travel

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The Eyes of Thailand” is thrilled to announce that Intrepid Travel has donated a FREE Trip for 2 in Thailand for one lucky Film donor.

Northern Thailand is among the greatest adventure destinations on the planet and this journey reveals why: hiking among hill tribes, sailing its rivers, and calling into friendly and colorful villages along the way. This 15-day journey will take you from the chaotic streets of Bangkok to the serene countryside and offer a glimpse into this fascinating country. Plus, during your adventure, you’ll visit the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital and meet Motala and Mosha, two of the elephants featured in “The Eyes of Thailand” documentary.

How to Enter: Everyone who donates US $100+ to “The Eyes of Thailand” via our IndieGoGo campaign will be entered into the Contest when they select the “Win a Trip for 2 in Thailand” perk. The minimum donation is US $100 per Drawing Ticket and tickets will be provided in increments of $100. For example, if you donate $500 and select the “Win a Trip for 2 in Thailand” perk, you will receive up to five (5) Drawing Tickets. The maximum number of tickets per person is ten (10).

The Drawing will occur after December 5, 2011, or when “The Eyes of Thailand” has reached its fundraising goal of US $75,000, whichever comes first. The Winner will receive one (1) trip for two (2) on The Intrepid Travel trip Beautiful Thailand (Trip Code: TTSN), plus 2 sets of “Eyes of Thailand” swag to help outfit you for the trip. The retail value of the trip is $2,650, and the trip can be viewed at



  • Airfare not included.
  • The Trip must commence between January 1 – December 5, 2012.
  • Please read the Terms and Conditions for more details.

About Intrepid Travel: For travelers with a yearning to get off the beaten track, Intrepid opens up a whole new world. Intrepid offers authentic travel experiences and its travelers discover real people, real cultures and have incredible real life experiences along the way. Committed to traveling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment, Intrepid helps conserve the areas they visit and bring positive benefits to their host communities.

Intrepid is thrilled to support Windy Borman and her eye-opening documentary, “The Eyes of Thailand”.  Through the Intrepid Foundation, Intrepid is dedicated to supporting non-governmental organizations in the destinations they visit. Intrepid supports projects working in the areas of health care, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development and in environmental and wildlife protection. The Foundation’s projects in Thailand include the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) and select itineraries passing through Northern Thailand make a stop to see the great work FAE and its founder Soraida Salwala are doing with injured elephants.

For more information, please visit:

Day Five: It’s a wrap at FAE’s Elephant Hospital

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Left to Right: Suzanne Roland, Patty Coogan, Anne Snowball, Soraida Salwala, Dr. Kay, Dr. Preecha, Jodi Frediani, director/producer Windy Borman.

Today I completed the 5-day film shoot at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital. It has been an emotional week and I decided to wrap  the day interviewing Soriada Salwala (FAE’s founder) and Dr. Preecha.

The quest of a documentary film shoot is to be at the right place at the right time to record the events as they happen in real time. Some of it is based on intuition, the rest is luck. U.S. daytime talk show host/extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey says, Luck is 90% Preparation and 10% Opportunity. However you define Luck, I definitely had some of it today. For example, when I interviewed Dr. Preecha, Mosha’s pen was behind him and Motala was off to his right.  When he said, “The main goal for an elephant’s prosthesis is not walking, but taking some of the weight off of the elephant’s other three legs” and then began to explain the difference between Mosha’s and Motala’s prostheses, Mosha, as if on cue and wearing her prosthesis, walked into the background of the shot and stopped when she was perfectly framed.

Next, after Soraida visited Boonmee–who is doing much better, by the way, but still not in the clear–she walked to the foreground of the frame to wash her hands.  With water and soap suds running down her hands she looked at me behind the camera and said, We need to remove these landmines from the ground. As she launched into the cowardice of countries who spend more money on weapons than landmine removal, Boonmee turned and limped toward Soraida also stopping within her frame so she wouldn’t miss a word Soraida said.

Intuition. Luck. Preparation. Opportunity. However you slice it, it was pretty cool to be in the creative groove to film these moments today–and it was a great way to wrap the shoot.

Tomorrow I’m off to Laos for the Youth Leaders Forum for the Cluster Munitions Convention. Next time I write, I’ll be in Vientiane!


Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand


Friday, October 8th, 2010


Contact Name: Windy Borman



Award-winning Filmmakers’ fight for Elephant Landmine Survivors in new shocking documentary, “The Eyes of Thailand”, takes them to the International Convention to Ban Landmines in Laos

San Francisco, CA – October 8, 2010 – D.V.A. Productions, in association with Indiewood Pictures, currently in production on the powerful feature-length documentary film, The Eyes of Thailand, about the plight of Asian Elephants grossly injured and disfigured from stepping on forgotten landmines buried along the Thai-Myanmar border, will attend and film November’s International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)’s Youth Leaders Forum in Vientiane, Laos. The ICBL is a 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate responsible for bringing about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The film is directed and produced by Windy Borman, who started the film three years ago, and produced by Tim VandeSteeg, who recently produced the award-winning documentary, My Run, narrated by Billy Bob Thornton.  What The Cove was for dolphins, The Eyes of Thailand is for elephants,” said Borman.

Borman is scheduled to return to the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital outside of Lampang, Thailand, where two widely publicized and recently injured elephants have been transported and are being treated for landmine accidents. It is this hospital and the work of its courageous founder, Soraida Salwala, that originally attracted Borman to the subject and launched her effort to capture the story in The Eyes of Thailand, a film set to be released in 2011.

This trip represents the final chapter since Borman’s last film shoot in August 2009, when she traveled to Thailand to film Motala, a 48-year old elephant landmine survivor, take her first step on her new prosthetic limb. Building Motala’s prosthesis was a 10-year quest for FAE’s founder, Soraida Salwala, and Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, Associate Professor of Thailand’s Prostheses Foundation. Motala arrived at FAE after stepping on a landmine along the Thai-Myanmar border in August 1999. It wasn’t until a baby elephant landmine survivor arrived at FAE in 2006 that they thought they could build prostheses to help the elephants walk again. Motala took her first steps on her prosthesis on August 16, 2009.

Unfortunately, on August 4, 2010, Mae Ka Pae arrived at FAE’s Elephant Hospital after stepping on a landmine along the Thai-Myanmar border.  One month later, Boonmee, stepped on a landmine and was transported to FAE.

According to Yeshua Moser-Puanguswan of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, “Thailand is a state party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and is clearing mines from its territory, mostly along its border with Cambodia. All of the elephants at the FAE hospital come from doing illegal logging in Burma, which has not joined the treaty and is the only country in the world today where landmines are being used on a widespread basis.”

“The anniversary of Motala taking her first steps on a prosthesis is bittersweet”, said Borman. “We need a film that can crack our collective consciousness and demand all nations sign and enforce the Mine Ban Treaty.  I hope The Eyes of Thailand can do that.”




Ex-pats raise funds for new Elephant Hospital

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

A recent article in the Chiang Mai Citylife E-zine caught my attention.  It reported:

A group of energetic retired expats got together a few years back to organise a slew of fun and interesting activities – Citylife Garden Fair, weekend getaways, raffles nights, dances and parties – to raise funds to support a handful of selected charities and causes. The latest cause for the 200 Club is to support the formation of a non-profit elephant clinic in the Mae Tang area to cater for minor diseases and injuries for the 500 or so elephants living in Mae Sa, Mae Tang and Chiang Dao districts, so that they do not have to travel by truck, at great inconvenience and stress, all the way to the Lampang Elephant Hospital. (Read the rest of the article here).

By “the Lampang Elephant Hospital”, the reporter means the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital, founded by Soraida Salwala in 1993 and featured in the elephant conservation documentary, The Eyes of Thailand. I asked Soraida what she thought of the article and here is her reply:

Dear Windy:

I have heard of this hospital for quite some time, just a quick glance at the article you sent.

I believe that every good cause for the welfare of the elephants should be encouraged. The only thing that might worry me is the point that healthy elephants and the sick ones should not be in the same compound. However, experts would know that.

Regarding the inconvenience of transporting the sick elephants to FAE, I must say that we have built it here as it is the best location for elephants we could find. We cannot be near anyone, anywhere and in 1993 there were just a few elephant camps in Chiangmai, a lot of elephants were in logging in this part of the country and in other regions. We have had many elephants from all over Thailand. Inconvenience it might have been but we have done the best we could to provide treatment for them. And not only the injuries or their other ailments but their minds. Being in a quiet place in a natural surroundings helps the sick elephants a lot to gain back their health.

We may have only two veterinarians but we have trained many vet students (local and from other countries), elephant keepers and to this date, many are working in those tourist camps or government sectors.

Experts in elephants are rare and FAE stafff are very dedicating and I wish there would be more places like FAE’s.

We may not have the best equipment but we are proud of what we have been doing.

Thank you.


I concur with Soraida.  I think the world would be a nicer place if there were more places like FAE, treating ill or injured elephants, rehabilitating them after they’ve stepped on landmines, and working with the Prostheses Foundation to build prostheses to help them walk again.

What do you think? I look forward to reading your comments.

-Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand

The Asian Elephant is walking an explosive path toward extinction

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Mosha walking on her prosthetic limb. (credit: Catching Smiles Club.)

August 18, 2010–Below is an excerpt from Kevin James Moore’s August 9th article on the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital and the on-going threat of landmines:

Mosha was walking alongside her mother through the jungles that cover the Thailand-Myanmar border when she stepped on a landmine that would leave her forever maimed.At seven-months old Mosha, an Asian Elephant, had her right front leg destroyed by a buried explosive. Now at five-years old, with the aid of a prosthetic limb, she is walking on all four legs once again.

Mosha resides at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) hospital along with Motala, a 49-year old elephant and landmine survivor who also received a prosthetic limb ten years after an ill-fated step in 1999 that deprived her of a front limb as well. Founded in 1993 as the world’s first Asian Elephant hospital by Soraida Salwala, FAE has helped these two elephants walk again with the use of prostheses.

To watch Mosha and Motala walk again overwhelmed Salwala. “I was more than happy and tears filled my eyes,” she said. The tears she shed were from joy, “I was speechless and my heart beamed.”

The story of Mosha and Motala has inspired San Francisco, California documentary filmmaker Windy Borman to direct and film “The Eyes of Thailand,” a film she hopes will educate people and cause them to take action to protect the Asian Elephant. There were 40,000 Asian Elephants in 1993 and now there are less than 3,00, said Borman. She is trying to help Salwala in her quest to save the animal that she loves.

“I consider myself a pretty worldly person, but I had no idea elephants were stepping on landmines, especially an endangered species,” explained Borman. “I knew I had to tell other people about it.”

The complete article appears in the July/August edition of The Animals Voice magazine.  You can order your own copy here. To preview the full article, please visit Moore’s blog.

-Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand

Conflict in Thailand Escalates; Bangkok on Fire

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

May 20, 2010–I’ve never used this blog to promote or comment on a national political situation before, but the conflict in Thailand has finally reached such a heightened state it is effecting regions outside Bangkok, including rural areas in the northeast and the northern city of Chiang Mai (about 1 hour away from FAE’s Elephant Hospital). Consequently, I feel it is time I wrote about it here.

Since mid-March, more than 65 people have been killed and more than 1,000 people have been injured, according to a Ministry of Health report. On May 15, 2010, the Huffington Post called the conflict “the most prolonged and deadliest bout of political violence that Thailand has faced in decades despite having a history of coups – 18 since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.”

I have not heard much from Soraida Salwala, the founder of the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital, but she wrote to me on May 19, 2010 stating she had to flee Bangkok because it was on fire.

Julia Ferdinand, a Production Coordinator for The Eyes of Thailand who is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, confirmed the fires in Bangkok and emailed me the following:

it’s a disaster area down there [in Bangkok]. more than 35 building sites have had fires. some very large buildings burnt to the ground. been following journos on the scene via twitter… the thai Prime Minister forced the line with the protesters and the military broke through the protesters barracaded encampment down in a business area of bangkok. not sure how much of this has been on the news for you.
several of the leaders of the movement turned themselves in to authorities yesterday, which sparked a backlash and fresh violence throughout the country. in 6 or so, other areas provincial gov’t halls were burnt to the ground. here in chiang mai, they set a fire on the bridge not far from my house and tried.. i don’t know how successfully to burn the govenor’s house.

we don’t know yet if there is civil war as such. it’s a little early to tell. the movement may calm down and appear at a later time.. or it might end.. too soon to tell.

chiang mai is definitely better off than bangkok. standing with the crowd of people yesterday.. all of us were shocked to see anything like it here. really dumbfounded.

As I learn more about the situation, Soraida, Julia and the elephants at FAE’s Elephant Hospital, I will let you know.

For now, please check out the following links:

Reuters AlertNet’s Conflict Time Line

The PSA Blog: As Bangkok Burns, Thailand’s Conflict Between the Red Shirts and the Abhisit Government Deepens

Newsweek: It’s not Just Red and Yellow

-Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand