Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Amazing Elephant

Yesterday Alexis and I headed outside of Chiang Mai to ride elephants in Thailand's jungle. Yes! We rode elephants all day!! We went to the "Thai Elephant Home," a place that I highly recommend to anyone wanting a true elephant experience.

Any place that makes a constant conservation effort and reforestation effort gets a plus in my book. The Thai Elephant Home also tries to preserve the elephant heritage and traditions. After learning about the elephants, practicing the commands, and changing into our tradition Thai outfits we headed out to pick our elephants! But, not before stopping to offer our prayers to Buddah that we may travel in safety.

Learning about Asian Elephants
Praying to Buddha
 We fed the elephants banannas, which they really enjoyed, then practice mountains and dismounting. Then we picked our elephants for the day.

My Beautiful Elephant!
I ended up with one of the male elephants. He had beautiful tusks and was mostly gray in color. I can't remember his name because it was hard to say in Thai, but I was able to remember all of the commands! After trekking through the jungle for a while we stopped to take a short break. All of the elephant handlers wanted to know if I had ridden an elephant before because they said I was really good. What a compliment! It seemed similar to riding a horse and I was really comfortable on the elephant!

Sometimes our handlers would have to hop on the elephant with us when we crossed large rivers. Talk about powerful animals! No river current seemed too big!

When we stopped for lunch we got to experience Pad Thai wrapped in large leaves. It was delicious! It was nice to stop and eat some food, but mostly it was great because we got to play in the mud! 

Pad Thai in leaves

Say what? Yep. We played in the mud with our elephants! Covering them in mud helps protect their skin from the sun, plus it is also good for human skin. I should clarify that this wasn't like regular mud, it was thick black mud that felt really nice. (Although I'm not sure I liked the fact that it got everywhere and was really hard to get off.) Plus we got to be covered in mud just like the elephants!

After covering our elephants in mud we got back on, which is done by telling the elephant to lay down, then headed to the river. I'm super glad my elephant obeyed/I was able to control him because all of the elephants wanted to stop and eat along the way. We then bought some sugar cane for our elephants. They could smell it in our hands and would reach their trunks over their heads and grab some from us. It was super fun!

We then stopped in one of the rivers and cleaned off the mud. It was really fun to play in the river with the elephants! Plus, I got to splash Alexis with water and my elephant enjoyed spraying water all over people!

We then walked through a village and headed back to the Thai Elephant Home. It was interesting to see how well-kept our elephants looked in comparison to some that we're obviously not treated super well. I'm glad that Alexis and I picked this elephant place because they are all treated very well. (P.S. There are awesome signs everywhere.)

Watch for Elephants and Oxen... Not Deer.
Once we got back, we showered and soaked our feet in some so of herbal tea. The Thai Elephant home gave us each a t-shirt, photo of our elephant and us, and a CD with photos they took along the way! I can't wait till I get home to look at the photos! Too bad my iPad doesn't have a CD drive...

Anyways - Elephants are awesome!!!

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