|Taking a bath|
Of all the adventures I’ve had since leaving the States, my trip into the mountains north of Chiang Mai, Thailand, was absolutely the best. Among other things, I got to hug an elephant.
I’ve been in Chiang Mai for going on three weeks and have planned on visiting an elephant camp all along but the time didn’t seem right. Finally, I had taken a tuk-tuk to one of the big malls because I had a few things to get and on the trip back to my hotel (guesthouse actually) I really connected with the driver.
He is a very nice guy named Tony and I asked him
about the elephants. We arranged for him to pick me up the next morning at 8:30
and head into the mountains to his favorite elephant camp (there are quite a
few around this city).
|Me and Tony|
After about 45 minutes of stunning scenery, passing everything from Thai Army camps to the entrance to the five-star Four Seasons Resort, we arrived – along with a couple of busloads of tourists. I am so glad I went with Tony instead. I had a personal tour guide and someone to take my pictures and someone to talk to about so many other things, like the history of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
|This one gave me a bi smackeroo!|
We watched the elephants bathing in the river, which was extremely interesting because they choose this time to eliminate bodily waste (there’s a pleasant way of putting it!) Downriver, ladies wait with plastic laundry baskets to collect the dung, which is later turned into paper.
However, before the bathing I was able stand with a couple
of young elephants and get kissed by one of them, a completely thrilling
experience. Boy do their trunks have a huge amount of suction. It was a bit odd
but wonderful at the same time.
While the tour groups stayed behind for the official elephant show, Tony and I wandered off to find the nursery. There were no babies in residence but instead this wonderful girl, Full Moon, who had just given birth to a stillborn and was depressed. She needed full-time care and was isolated from the other elephants and tourists. But Tony spoke to her mahout (care-taker) and he allowed us to feed her some bananas and me to give her a hug. She was so gentle. I loved the feel of her ears.
It will take an entire other blog post to cover our venturing into the Hill Tribes community, so I’ll leave you here with this one – hugging an elephant.
PS – Should anyone out there need a good tuk-tuk driver in Chiang Mai – Tony's the guy! I put a picture of his business card below.
PSS – The lovely young lady below is Ying, who I met yesterday at 7-11. She spoke pretty good English and I was so happy to speak with someone who was so warm. She lost her mother recently and I think I made her think of her. Anyway, I gave Ying my card with the address for this blog on it and I hope she sees this. Hi, Ying! You made my day.