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Published: October 22nd 2012
Aw! How gorgeous?
This was a young elephant having a great time just wandering in her bit of jungle. When I saw this it seemed to back up claims that these were very well looked after elephants.
They all seemed happy; they were playful and not once did I see any type of cruelty or forceful coaxing to get them to do anything.
I realise that 2 out of the three headline words could be titles for the most recent panorama production but don't get excited. All I am discussing here is elephants.
Traveling alone can make for some very strange feelings and none more so than trying to decide what to do,or where to go. Days out normally involve discussions with friends or family... Here,the closest I have to a friend is the Russian lady who was having problems with judicial happenings and tits.
So, when it came to wanting to spend a day with elephants I had to try to decide myself if me visiting these elephants was going to harm them in any way. I found another traveller who had been and he described his visit as a journalist; he was encouraging,so I went.
Before arriving I could see elephants wandering in the jungle, sauntering along, seemingly happy and not a care in the world... As we neared the elephants home there were notices, going an elephants name and her demeanour; one classed as playful, one cheeky, one naughty and another stubborN. I wondered which I would be had I been an elephant, then thought this is not
Splash! Elephant vs. Me in the water
The pictures are too dark; but here is real proof I was on an elephant, washing it, in the water, with a scrubbing brush - and she loved it.
The handler kept shouting a word, and laughing - every time he laughed she filled her trunk and spat it all over me. Fantastic - I was smiling like a right stupid sod all day after that!
the way I want this rambling to go!
I got the playful one, I can't remember her name though. She is 14 years old and so funny. Each time the handler turned round (as he was sat on her neck) she would bend to pinch more of the vegetation to eat! The young handler, 21 years old, was brilliant with her; it was obvious how much respect he had for her and that made it more enjoyable.
2 of the older and more experienced elephants were ridden down to the river, where we had the chance to get really close to them, stroking them as they walked. Once at the river we were encouraged to strip off to out bathing clothes and take it in turns (families together) to get in the water and play with the elephants.
I was next to the last to go in, and hoped that the elephant wasn't fed up, but no chance, she was all up for playing longer. I managed to swim over to her, get on her back and that is when it got funny (well, depending on where you were, it probably got funny as I tried to
A few times it said about not approaching the elephants without her handler there (the ones we saw were all female)
get on to her back without either drowning myself or killing the handler!).
Once on her back I was encourage to stroke her ears so she was happy with me being there; once that was sorted, I was given a scrubbing brush and told to get cleaning her! It was amazing, sitting on an elephant, in a river of a jungle on an island most people haven't heard of with a scrubbing brush in my hand, ready to wash an elephant... and I'm sure that even I didn't think of this in my list of possible adventures eh?
Each time the handler shouted a word, and laughed loud, the elephant filled her trunk and sprayed the water backwards, all over me, it was amazing, I couldn't stop laughing. The elephant was loving it too I was told - she certainly seemed to be! In the end I couldn't hold on any longer (f**** RSD again) and had to get down before my allotted bathing session was over - I was sad about that, but so happy that I actually did it, and wasn't frightened to swim over to her, or to get on her back in the water.
The handler got off the elephant to take photos - I thought he would be straight back on, but no, he left me alone, in charge!
Going downhill was flipping scary, I kept thinking I was going to fall off. The people in the elephants around me kept laughing at my soundtracks!
We then went back to the ranch; had a drink and then set off on a very long trek through the jungle. I was travelling alone on the elephant - the other people there was an Irish family (with a mother who obviously had Japanese genetic make-up in the photography department, much to the amusement of her family!); there were 2 couples - one from England and one from Russia.
Getting on the elephant could have been a comedy show in itself, thankfully no-one videoed me getting on!
The handler told me how he was getting her to walk in the right way - no cruelty at all, just noises and a tap (very slight) of the ear if she didn't respond to the noise. I asked why he had a stick with a metal rod on, and he said that was in case other jungle animals came close to us - it was not for challenging the elephant; huge relief!
It was amazing sitting atop this huge beast; she was lolloping slowly, giving me so much time to appreciate what I was doing. She stopped at every opportunity to eat though - the handler laughed,
Just before this, the handler pointed out a HUGE spider - I wish I had been able to get a photo as I have never seen such a beautiful - or big, spider. It was black and white, its legs were striped.
and each time he laughed when she was pulling up vegetation she shook side to side as though she was telling us she was boss, so quit nagging!
Going down hill was scarey, it felt as though she was going to topple over and send me head over heels; that didn't happen though. The handler got off, to take photographs of me - and then he didn't get back on until we got to the very last bit before the ranch.
All the other people had a go at riding "bare-back" on the elephants lower neck. I didn't do that, I didn't feel confident enough to transfer from the chair to her neck.
When we got back to the ranch we were given a huge bunch of bananas each so we could feed our respective elephants. I guess that was a good bit of being a lone ranger - I got to feed all the bananas myself to the elephant I had been on.
Amazing day, amazing beasts, amazing handlers. It is just a huge shame the photographs can't convey the smile I was wearing for the rest of the day and how alive I felt
My elephant, a young 14 year old, had kept stopping all the way round, pulling anything it could to eat! So, I was surprised when she decided at the end to eat ALL the bananas! She was so funny; I wish I could have spent longer with her than the four hours I had.
as I was with the elephants.
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