Monday, June 11, 2012

nature's great masterpiece

It was my first visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I knew that two nights was way too short, but we just had to make the most of it. So, how do you make the most of it?


My good friend Bry the Incredible Shrinking Man (who's kinda unshrunk after living in Thailand for a year) said to me, "Why would you pay an elephant farm 2,400 baht so that you can do their job for the day? And you have to wear a uniform!"

Photo by Bunny Rabbit, Nikon D90.

The first thing we did was feed the elephants. Bunny Rabbit: "Go closer. Closer! I can't get a good shot."

Me: "No way! They're f@#$ing huge! Even the baby!"

Photo by Bunny Rabbit, Nikon D90.

Sorry, no more food.

Photo by Bunny Rabbit, Nikon D90.

Bananas all gone. Really.

This nice gentleman-- arghh, can't remember his name!-- was our guide and teacher for the day. He explained what Baanchang Elephant Park is about (rescuing elephants from abusive owners and giving them a decent place to live), why the elephants are chained up (so that they won't wander off the property and get shot), what the mahout's hook is for (to gently prod the animals, not to hurt them), what their future plans are (to buy more property and expand the park so that they can rescue more elephants), and... drumroll, please... how to ride them bareback.

Before I knew it, I was on top of an elephant.

And then we took a break. Fresh, simple, hearty food for lunch. It's Thailand. Of course, everything was delicious.

The hammocks looked very inviting after our meal, but it was time to go back to work.

We got back on the saddle, so to speak, and followed a trail through the jungle for an hour or so. There were some steep portions and you really have to hang on. With your knees.

No sweat, though. Even little kids can do it.

Big kid. Big butt.

After the ride, we took the elephants to a pond and gave them a bath.

I really don't want to use the word "magical" because it's so hokey, but there's really no other way to describe this experience. I loved the elephants! I loved touching them, I loved smelling them, I even loved it when they used their trunks to spray partially masticated bananas in my face.

It's so hard to communicate what I felt that day. My hands were trembling the entire time, I was so freaking excited. I will never, ever forget it.

And to all those people who like to watch elephants dance, stand on two legs, draw pictures and do other unnatural things, I have this to say: There's a special place in hell for you. *smiles sweetly*

The metaphysical poet John Donne wrote: "Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing."

Everything you need to know about Baanchang Elephant Park is on their exceptional website. They answer email inquiries right away, and they'll even pick you up from your hotel.

1 comment:

  1. when i wrote about "those people" going to hell, i didn't mean you. :-))