Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today was Elephant Owner for a Day day! We got up, got ready, grabbed some breakfast and waited for our pick-up. We drove 30 minutes out to the farm, with a nice guy from England named Rob. It was a grey morning and we joined a group of about 15 other people. We were split into two groups and began to learn all about elephants and their place in Thai history and culture.

We were then off to meet our elephants and learn how to take care of them!  My elephant was a 7 year old male, named Poo-Chan (that’s phonetically!) He had tusks! Trey’s name was something like Bo-Tak. We were given a basket of food and taught to say “Bo” to get them to open their mouths so we could hand them food. They had crazy strong tongues. Both of our elephants like to hold a piece or two of food in their trunks and still be fed. We learned how to check their health including smelling and feeling their poop! Next we walked them by holding their ears and saying “mai” which means comes. We then brushed some of the dirt off of them before leading them to the river for washing.

We scrubbed them clean then posed for a picture as the trainers prompted the elephants to spray us!  Then we had to learn how to mount and ride our elephants. There were three options: (1) you could have your elephant lay down and then scramble up (2) you could have your elephant bend one leg and then you climb up that way (3) you could have your elephant make a step with his trunk and then lift you up. Believe it or not, we both went with the third option. Trey was a bit more graceful about it then me!
We then began the ride to the waterfall. “Bai” was forward; “toi” was backwards; “yanna” was don’t! It was a bit harrowing but I was doing okay until our elephants got spoked and stared running up a hill. (Trey will tell you that’s a slight exaggeration.) It was enough deja vu to the last time I wrote a horse which tried to jump off a cliff with me. It was a bit nervous after that and not a fan of the uphill and downhills. It was quite impressive how carefully the elephants plan their step and how surefooted their are. After about an hour, we arrived at the waterfall where we got off and left the elephants play in the water while we had lunch.

Our luck it began to POUR. Thankfully most of our food was wrapped in palm/banana leaves and we used big leaves to cover the rest of the food. We had tons of rice, awesome fried chicken, and great fruit. We stuffed ourselves as the rain poured down. The elephants had fun playing in the water. A 13 yr old girl and her dad played in the water with them. On the way back, another girl and I decided to walk back. Everyone took the road back instead of the crazy trek we took to get there. We had a little wrap up and Trey and I climbed on an elephant together for some final pictures.

We got back to the hotel; I relaxed reading in the bathtub. By about 6:30-7pm I was sound asleep. Trey followed not too much later!

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