Ellie wanted to ride with me, not by herself, so we doubled up and I experienced what it feels like to ride on the shoulder blades of an elephant as it walks up mountains. Let’s just say “sore” was a good word the next day!
This particular location rescued elephants from inhumane practices (logging, etc.) and cared for them like pets. They don’t use chains or make them do trick shows. They treat them with kindness and love, and you could really tell they were passionate about the care of their elephants! They taught us the commands to make them go, stop, turn, and lay down.
We promptly forget the Thai commands.
When we arrived, we had to change out of our clothes, into the clothes they provided (We brought swimsuits to wear underneath). We also had to remove shoes. This didn’t seem like a big deal until they told us to feed the elephants the bamboo (or maybe it was sugar cane. I can’t remember). As I stood on the edge of the large, muddy pen, I was hesitant. I had just watched an elephant pee a river in that same place, so I knew the mud I was entering into wasn’t “clean” mud.
The hills were beautiful! It was lush and green, and the elephants were stubborn with great personalities. There was laughter and smiles that just wouldn’t quit. Faith’s elephant decided he didn’t want to be a follower anymore and took off, passing us all in a pretty quick gait! Her guide was laughing and cheering, making the other guides push all our elephants to be first in line.
The guides who walked beside us (who DID remember the commands!) were also using our phones to take pictures of us. It was as though we were movie stars, as many pictures as they took!
Then, the elephants walked into the pond.
The pond of mud and poop, and we tried not to think too hard about it, but we were so thankful we were wearing borrowed clothes! Before we went in, they watered the elephants and playfully turned the hose on us. Our elephants all laid down in the water and rolled around. We rubbed them down, washing some of the dirt off their rough hides. As our elephant made the decision to stand up, we were reminded again exactly how large these gorgeous creatures really are! It towered over us, and as we took a step back, we heard “KERPLUNK!” multiple times. We craned our necks to see behind the elephant just in time to see that the noise was coming from his poop splashing into the water…Ellie and I were ready to retreat to dry land!
The day was something we will forever remember and count as one of the true blessings of living on this side of the world!
The day was some