He told me to just step on her neck. It did not sound like a good idea, wouldn’t it hurt her? Then the man reached out for my foot and placed upon her neck motioning me forward.
There I was 12 feet in the air and locked in by a makeshift seatbelt when she began to move. Elephants really don’t move gracefully or swiftly as they did in the cartoon adventures of Dumbo from when I was a kid. They lumber. They are powerful and awesome and I was sitting on one’s back.
I was at the Sairoong Elephant Camp near Khao Lak (near Phuket, an area devastated by the Tsunami a few years back). Elephants are friendly and social creatures and this was a great first-time experience to find out. The trek took a couple of hours to go through a lush, green jungle and a another few minutes to hangout with the elephants after the hike. Overall, I thought it was fantastic.
It wasn’t the ride, itself, that was so fantastic. Actually, all that lumbering and swaying made me a little nauseous. Yes, I was getting seasick on the back of an elephant. Fortunately, I had Po, the twenty year-old guy sitting on my elephants head keeping everything in control… until he decided to leave me alone with the elephant when he slide down the elephants tusk, leaving me alone with Malo — my elephant. Turns out Malo knew where we were going. So I didn’t have to worry too much. Still Dramamine might have been a good choice before saddling up.
After an hour, I had enough elephanting and took to walking with them. This is really where it got good. Like most people, I had never had the chance to stand up close to any elephant before. As legend suggested, they do have big soulful eyes and eat bananas by the truckloads — as I found out at the end of my ride.
I hand fed my elephant lots of bananas and pet her rough-skinned face. Turns out Malo had a little case of the sniffles. I discovered this when I offered her a banana high above my head. I wanted to get her into a trumpeting pose, reaching up with her trunk. And when she lifted her mammoth trunk, the contents of her snotty nose drained at once, splattering me with the contents of her nostrils. An elephant with the sniffles is an impressive display of mucus.
I do have photos of my experience and will add them soon.
For more on visiting the Sairoong Elephant Camp call 081-6202075 or 085-6195357. Unfortunately, they do not have a web page.