Day 99: Hiking, rafting and elephants

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Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai
February 12th 2019
Published: February 26th 2019
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Thailand is known for its elephants and after Shelby went on an elepant craze in Cambodia (elephant pants, elephant shirts, elephant paintings, elephants, elephants, elephants), it only seemed right that we spend a day interacting with elephants. In Chiang Mai, it turns out elephants are in large supply and many companies provide ample tours. Our hostel owner Som informed us that most of the parks in the north of Thailand are very good and reputatable. They don’t allow riding on the elephants, they have handlers who work specifically with an elephant to ensure they understand basic commands (eat, good, stop, back, etc.) to provide a safe environment for tourists, and mostly they roam free. This is not the case in all places in Thailand or around the world so do your research first. Most elephants who you can ride have not been treated well in order to train them to do this. We ended up on a full day tour including a small hike, rafting down a river and then the elephants. It was fun to be in a large group setting (16 people) and see those dynamics emerge. One young man has just started his trip and has 3 months and has already lost his wallet twice and his phone once. It might be a long journey of growth for him. The elephants truly amazing to watch. They are so smart and the way they move their massive bodies up and down hills and in the river while we bathed them was incredible. So smooth and graceful and very playful. It turns out elephants spend most their days eating (they need about a 100 kilograms of food per day) and trying to stay cool. After their baths they would go roll in the dirt to cake their bodies again. The most interesting fact I found out was the part of the brain that lights up when the elephants interact with humans is the same part of our brain that lights up when we interact with dogs. Puts forth the question of who is the owner and who is the pet 😉


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