Today we rode elephants

Trip Start Jul 07, 2011
1
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Thailand  , Chiang Mai,
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adem has always been really excited about riding elephants,i have always been a little bit more cautious about it, as they are huge things, and i am pretty small.

There are so many different elephant treks or tours that you can do up here, it is a bit baffling trying to choose one. In the end we choose the  day trip that involved the least walking but seemed to do a variety of activities, also we only needed to be picked up at 8.30, which is perfect for us as neither of us as big fans of long treks or early starts!

we were picked up again in a lovely cool minibus, and the group all seemed friendly and chatty, mix of people, and a couple with some small kids, and were driven about an hour or so south of chaing mai and up into the hills. the drive was great once we got out of the city, (where we passed a tesco and a macro, there is a saying in thailand, same same, but different, seems fitting no?) we passed lush vegetation, corn fields and rice paddies. We wound our way up the hill and stopped at our first stop of the day, the elephant camp.

We had met an english couple a few nights ago had been volunteering with elephants here for a week and told us a few truths about how the elephnats are really looked after and trained, so i was a little sceptical about how happy the elephants really were.

The first challenge for me was to cross a really high up rope bridge , the type that move and sway alarmingly when you start to move, i got half way before starting to have a bit of a flap and shout for adem to hurry up and help me, but at the same time for him to slow down and stop moving the bridge, but as soon as he caught up with me and held my hand i was fine. the calming power of an adem.

We were then sheperded onto an elephant, everyone saying hurry hurry,so i informed them that i am was getting on an elephant and was not going to hurry. we were plonked on the biggest elephant with huge tusks. elephants are big. we were high up. we were peched on this little bench with a rail, but no real protection from falling off. we started walking and it became clear that we had the elephant who liked to eat. fitting. the bench really sways around and i was sure i was going to slip off the elephant and go crashing into the jungle. when you go down steep hills you really have to brace yourself because you would slide off. boom!

elephant riding, in short, is scary, but cool.

BUT i was not happy at all that they used bullwhips. which looks like an icepick. they use them to spur the elephant on, they don't whack them with them, that we saw, but i still didn't like it at all.

oh, there was a little baby elephant, that we were told to stay away from as he was really playful and naughty and had no idea of his strength,he was cute and walked alongside the other elephants for our trek.

the bit i liked best about elephant trekking was when we crossed the river on the elephant, i liked that!

After we had finished our elephant trek we had some to take some photo's and pet the naughty baby elephant.

we then were driven off to visit a hill tribe, which was basically just people trying to sell you scarves. i got the impression that they dressed in traditional garments while the tours are coming around, and then as soon as we all leave for the day they pop on western clothes and knock off reeboks.

our guide was not great, and i didn't learn one thing about the tribe, i am only vaguely positive that they were Karen. which was a shame as i was looking forward to that bit the most. next to the village were rice paddies which were beautiful, had great reflections of the hills, and workers were planting new rice plants. made me laugh a little, a random westerner just popped off his shoes, waded into the knee high mud and got involved. made me wish i was less scared of snakes and could just throw off my shoes and get stuck in.

We were then driven to the start point for our trek to the waterfall. i say trek, i mean maybe a half hour walk. i was by this point on snake alert. eyes darting here and there. but there were no sightings, i was somewhat distracted by talking to a super lovely canadian girl who shared my fear. we reached the sign for the waterfall and walked down hundreds of steep slippery steps to the waterfall.

i like water, i like waterfalls! so i was really happy when we go there, and it was not too crowded.none of the rest of our group seemed to be wanting to get in the water, so i thought i better lead the charge, so i stripped off, and to a resounding 'you go girl' from tiffany the american, i inched my way into the water. it was cold, but felt amazing on my overly hot, red and sweaty body. ( i do paint the most attractive portrait of myself) the current was a little bit too strong so i had to anchor myself to a rock and ended up legs akimbo trying to find anchors. eventually one of the canadian guys joined me, so i didn't feel like such a loner.

i dragged myself out the water, worried that i was going to lose my bottoms and made my way over the rocks to adem and my clothes...then realised i had no towel. luckily, an english guy gave me his towel, he reminded me of my cousin greg.

once dried we made our way up the steps, which in the heat was a struggle. we were then driven to our lunch spot, lots of dishes of vegetables, amazing potatoes,fluffy rice.

next was river rafting. terrifying. one of the worst experiences of my life. we get on these rafts, which are not rafts, but strips of bamboo lashed together with old bits of tryes. and also most of it is about an inch underwater, so you get soaking wet. also it was narrow, and full of sunny rocks and overhanging tree's. perfect snake places. i spent the entire time starting fixedly at the spanish girl infront of me's back. i felt like i was  frozen in place. i am pathetic sometimes. there was one bit i did enjoy which was the numerous mini river rapids that we went over, they were fun, even the getting totally soaked whilst fully dressed and in walking shoes was fine,i mean, once you are wet you are wet! while we were rafting we got caught up in a little elephant traffic jam while they were crossing the rvier, and the aforementioned baby elephant was having a wonderful time rolling around in the water, splashing and waving his legs in the air, it was one of the best things i have ever seen. it was beyond adorable.

i was very relieved when we reached the end. i sprinted back to solid ground and finally took a deep breathe.

i then needed the loo. so my canadian toilet buddy and i went off to find one. i knew that the toilets would be bad. but this was foul. a squat over, covered wall to wall with poo, cockroaches and what looked like a dead rat. my poor toilet buddy dropped her towel on the floor.

we then got chatting and she told me her raft guide had pointed out five snakes. i am so pleased that i was not able to look away from the spainiards back. god knows that i would have done if i had seen one. i actually dread to think, but i think it would have been embarassing.

totally knackered by this point and soaking wet we got back into the bus and were driven home.all in all it is was a day i won't forget, but it has just clarified for me, that i am not an outdoorsy type, i like cities, i like concrete, i like the countryside in small doses!

think an early night is in store as i think it has taken me two hours to write this post as i am so tired that i can barely string words together, i think that is perhaps evident?

lazy day and mai thai boxing tomorrow!



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