Friday, September 10, 2010

The Great Thai Elephant Adventure

CYAN's crew tries a new skill!!

One of our most special adventures has been the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mei, Thailand. It’s the number one rated thing to do there on Tripadvisor Website and we consult that site often in our travels. This choice was better than we expected! It was educational and so much fun.

They picked us up early at our hotel and there were about 16 in our class of trainees. We learned about how the elephant is endangered and being abused by other tourist organizations. It seemed like we learned a lot about elephants: their reproduction, digestive health, usefulness, disposition, skin care, communication with us and us with them and of course, how to board one and get off! This can be complicated but we managed with help.

We examine the droppings for health check...[it was like shredded wheat!]

Chuck gets on like a pro!We will not show my was not a graceful sight!

Most interesting is that a swinging tail and flapping ears means a happy elephant and saying “deedee” to them mean “good elephant” while stroking under the eyes is affection! We had to write all the commands on our arms to keep track and they respond well to commands…eventually. Speed isn’t their strong point! Strength is!!! And coordination, along with warmth and friendliness! They get friendlier with you when you feed them that first basket of fruit and your hand is enthusiastically scooped right into their mouths with the fruit.

Chuck feeds his new friend!

Bath time in the river was fun but a lot of work! Skin care is important.

The elephant shower us after we bathed them

We learned to examine the sizable, but not offensive, droppings [see above] to check for health and to correctly bathe the elephants for skin care and do they ever love a good bath! They are very cooperative in the river. But, slugging through the muddy jungle takes some encouragement and that comes in the form of kicking them firmly behind the ears to go right or left and saying “bye” but more like “biii” to get them to move forward on the trail instead of stopping to nibble tasty bamboo shoots, a real favorite. We were so surprised at how well these elephants could climb over these steep trails in the jungle. Lynn who has some height issues had closed eyes a few times and we were more than 10’ up off the ground sitting on their heads rolling with each step. She kept looking for a soft muddy spot to fall but never did!

Along the muddy jungle trail!

After riding for almost 2 hours through steep, muddy but beautiful jungle we arrived at the wonderful waterfall for lunch and a swim with the “big” fun bunch. This was really a wild time as you can tell here. Lunch was great but all the leftover food including the banana leaf table cloth got fed to the elephants and they were used to it and ready for it!

These guys were like big babies in the water and we all had a blast like kids.

I’m sure the photos show what a wonderful day we had and we both will never forget our elephants. Lynn’s was Man Wan Dee and Chucks was Man Su Noy. They were both 35 years old and still in birthing years. They had both been teak log workers at one time and were “retired” now.

A tired return ride home.

Patara is a special location that takes in and cares for many elephants acquired from many sources and for many different reasons. We were so impressed with their work.

We were absolutely exhausted but what a wonderful way to end our 3 week journey in Northern Thailand.

Lynn and Chuck, who are now getting ready to go to the US for 19 days then China for 5 weeks!


Lexxy said...

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Hayden said...

WOW, what an adventure! Your travels look wonderful and you are taking in so many new treats. It is a pleasure to learn about these areas of the world and to discover the beauty along with you. Thank you for the FUN.

Peggy said...

I loved hearing about the elephant trip! I lke them almost as much as the humpback whales. Pictures were great!
Thanks for sharing!