The Elephant Ride

I am still in Pai. On Sunday I make my way south first to Chiang Mai, then Bangkok and on Tuesday to Cambodia. After lots of changing of mind I am after all going to Angkor. It seems crazy to be soo close to a place I so wanted to visit and not do it. Pai is still relaxing. Well, apart from today when Maya, my Israeli friend, finally managed to convince me to go on an elephant ride. I did not want to go for numerous reasons, but she wanted so much that I gave into it. So Mickey, a 22 year old Israeli boy, Maya and I rode towards the elephant “farms”. I disliked seeing the elephants tied by chains, did not feel like going, and when someone tried to explain me that riding tourists is nicer than “carrying wood” I was certain I should not do it. Elephants should just be in reservations I think. But Maya could not go alone, so we agreed to go. Neither Mickey or I were really into the elephant tourist trap experience, but Maya not only convinced us but managed to make us get the full experience ” riding through the jungle and bathing in the river!”

We were given a guide that spoke not a single word of English, and led to to climb a platform from which we could get onto the elephant. The nice guide, carried a tool that had something like a hook made of iron to make sure the elephant obeyed him… As soon as we sat on the elephant we cracked up. I have ridden horses and camels, so I was prepared for the moving of the elephants. We did not have a proper seat like you usually see in films, but a blanket. I always sat on the back but Maya and Mickey alternated between middle and head. As soon as we entered the “jungle” the ride became increasingly scaring. I could not breathe so much I laughed. Our guide seemed to enjoy a lot the fact that I could not breathe from laughter. So he chose the most dangerous paths. Over trunks of trees, and land slides, and rocks, and narrow paths and so on. And as he could not speak English we could not explain him that a “reitred florida old couple” ride would be preferable. By the time we were getting close to the river I was convinced I did not want to go into it. So when I saw a big tree I literally jumped from the elephant into the tree and abandoned the ride. I stood in the perfect place to take pictures and and watch Maya and Mickey in total despair. Had I laughed any harder I would have fallen out of the tree.

The elephant did not seem to want to bathe. The guide did not seem to understand that Mickey and Maya did not mind. So he hit the elephant into the laying down. The elephant did not move. Then he lifted his tail and defecated. Still being pulled down he collapsed entirely immersing his head under water. All I could see was M and M scared, and Maya saying ” I think the elephant died!” But then the elephant moved up and collapsed to one side dropping Maya out of his back into his shit. I could not breathe so much I laughed. The confusion was immense. The elephant collapsing, the guide not understanding English, M and M already done with the bathing experience, the guide making the elephant throw water with his trunk over the two of them. I watched from the tree quite relieved I had not joined them.

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