On Tuesday morning, Mark had arranged for us to take an elephant ride…sounds like fun!!!!
On the way to meet the guide, we passed many of these small yellow trucks with seats in the back. These are the busses of Chiang Mai!! If you enlarge the photo, you may be able to see the cute little girl looking out the back….
We arrived at the hotel and tourist facility owned by Durian and her husband, whose name we didn’t ever know. They gave us a quick tour of the Bed and Breakfast which had beautiful rooms for $15 to $28 each!!!! If we return to Chiang Mai, we will probably stay with them!!!
Normally, we would have had a driver take us to the Elephant Camp, but today we were accompanied by Durian and her husband. They were wonderful hosts and we received the royal treatment.
Durian provided bananas and sugar cane and we spent the next few minutes enjoyably feeding Mom and Baby..…… When we walked up to feed them, one of the handlers had us move to the far corner of the stall. We didn’t understand why at the time, but then realized that the Mama elephant couldn’t get all the way over to us there. She could just barely reach the food with her trunk.
Because we were busy feeding the baby, we missed the elephant bathing program, but we really didn’t care!!
Next was the elephant show. Our hosts showed us to the “best place” to sit and we enjoyed watching the antics of the elephants….
At one point they all danced for us…..it was fun to watch…..hope you will enjoy it too….
Several of these elephants had been trained to paint pictures and it was amazing to watch the dexterity of the elephant’s trunk. The handlers guided them by tugging on their ears.
The elephants then played soccer and shot basketballs and had a great time. The last act of the show were 4 huge elephants that showed how the Pachyderms were used as laborer’s, building a wall this time. In the middle of this demonstration Durian suggested that we go ahead and leave the show and head over to meet our elephant!!
We mounted the elephant from on top of an elephant-high deck structure. Here we are ready to go…..
Most of the handler’s straddled the elephants neck with their feet tucked behind the elephant’s ears. Of course, our handler was more cocky and balanced on her head with his feet hanging down the trunk.
There was a wonderful rocking motion as our elephant, a 22 year old named “Mai Ham” lumbered slowly along. We started up this muddy track and I was interested to watch as she placed her feet in each of these muddy holes. It looked as if the holes were about 1 foot deep.
The problem came when she started going DOWN this hill. We rocked and rolled down the hill, laughing hysterically, and hanging on for dear life…..at least I did!!! Michael was MUCH more demure and spent his time taking photos of the surroundings…..
At one point we stopped and the handler asked if we wanted him to take a photo of us. We handed him the camera, thinking that he would simply turn around and take it from the elephant’s head. But, NO…..our handler wanted a better photo so he got OFF OF Mai Ham and walked a few feet away. At this point I am muttering “PLEASE GET BACK ON”!!! He took several photos as Mai Ham wandered around, foraging for food, while I remembered snippets of newspaper headlines recalling “elephants gone wild!!”.
To his credit, he maintained control of Mai Ham with shouts and motions, and he took FANTASTIC photos…….
To my relief, he remounted and we were off again.
At various points along the way he would stop and let Mai Ham forage for food. I loved this photo and the relaxed way the handler is sitting…..it is just a normal old day (on his large, moveable, La-Z-Boy recliner)!!! When we stepped off at our destination Michael presented our Mahout a tip which he gratefully accepted.
Then it was on to the village of the “Long-Necks and Big Ears”….but that’s another post.