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2 November 2017: A Window to an Elephant's Soul

THAILAND | Thursday, 2 November 2017 | Views [359] | Comments [2]

Lumyai Elephant at Woody's

Lumyai Elephant at Woody's

To look into an elephant’s eyes is to gaze through the window to its soul.  Beautiful. Majestic. Powerful. Gentle. I can’t think of another animal that I can bond with faster than an elephant and I’m not sure why.  Legends tell that they are so much smarter than we assume they are – those legends are most likely right.

So today with friends, my wife and I struck out on an elephant experience like we did last year. A familiar face in the same driver picked us up. The drive up to the elephant sanctuary area of Chiang Mai Province can take about 90 minutes. Before we left the city, we picked up a couple from Britain and another from France. Really nice people all of them. Dave, from Britain was quite talkative, and he hit it off with our group. In retrospect, we should have gotten his contact information.

The drive takes  you up through hillside vistas with beautiful views. The government has put down new roads in many areas and continue to do so now – so the conditions are quite good.

Once at Woody’s Elephant Experience, we were briefed up on the order of events for the morning/early afternoon. We were introduced to our pachyderm friends. Before the names were read, my wife and I recognized a familiar face – Lumyai! Lumyai was our elephant friend from last year. She is a HUGE female elephant -- Slow, gentle, and very lovable. Lumyai (named after a local fruit) is a very young 23 years old, but stands much taller than most of her contemporaries. As I walked up to her and reached to touch her trunk, I could sense she remembered my wife and I. Looking into her large eyes and talking to her in Thai, she looked me square in the eye, trunk in a friendly position as I held onto her. They know…. I swear they know…. My wife spoke to the guide and told him we wanted this elephant friend again this year.

We got to see Coffee – another friend from last year -- again. Coffee is a medium-sized female elephant we met last year along with her baby (who was simply adorable). Baby is now a year older and off at elephant training school. Coffee was looking good and we fed her some snacks that were provided. Another real good girl.

Speaking of snacks….Sugarcane and bananas were the snack of the day. We did our best to spread it across the entire elephant gang. Admittedly, Lumyai got a larger share from us. She has a huge appetite – this was like a warm-up round for this big gal.  Her appetite is voracious as I remembered from last year.

After snack time, we climbed aboard our elephant partners. Sounds easy. Not so much when your elephant’s head is nearly 8 feet above the ground. Big girl was trying to help as was the handler (mahout). We got on board and settled in for the ride.

Riding an elephant down a hill is a slow process. They take their time – thankfully. Lumyai is a big, slow gal (most of the time). Her appetite compels her to rip grass and flowers along the path to chew on as we made our way to the river. I knew this would happen as this is exactly what she did last year. The only time Lumyai moved fast is when she spied local dogs in her path. I don’t know what these dogs ever did to her, but she picks up pace to chase them down. You can bet they high-tail it to get out of her way.  If she gets ahold of one of them, she’ll probably toss it 30 feet in the air.  They say that elephants never forget. Not sure what you dogs did to Lumyai, but she has NOT forgotten.

Once at the river, Lumyai was all about the bath. My wife and I took to the river to splash her down and use the brush to get her clean.  Like last year, she practically kept her entire head submerged and used her trunk like a snorkel.  We played with her in the river for 20 minutes or so. Once back on land, Lumyai was lifting people into the air. She lifted my wife so high, that she could feel her teeth. No, she wasn’t biting her, just lifting her so high that my wife was close to her mouth. Lumyai proceeded to lift a number of people for photo opportunities.

After photos were finished, we headed back up the hill to the elephant camp. Lumyai was especially slow, stopping to partake of the pathside snacks. She did pick up pace when a dog ran by her though!

When we got to the top of the hill, Lumyai kneeled down to help us get down. I stood there with her for a minute. Looked into those big eyes again. Giving her a short hug around the trunk – I looked back to her eyes and said goodbye. To look into an elephant’s eyes is to gaze through the window to its soul….

Our evening back in Chiang Mai was about feeling good. Ladies with hair washing, a cut, and styling. Men went with face scrubs and conditioning. It was very refreshing.

 After that we hopped restaurants and bars – eating various local food and drinking some beers. It was a relaxing finish to a great day.

The thousand words that compose today’s journal cannot capture how wonderful our time with the elephants was today. Those majestic animals provide a life-changing experience when you get up-close and get to know them. While we “knew” our elephant friend from last year, it was so very special for us to see her and share time with Lumyai again this year.

I hope you enjoyed this journal entry. Share with your family and friends! Cheers.

Tags: chiang mai, elephants, thailand, woodys




  John Lintz Nov 3, 2017 5:09 AM


What an epic blog summed up everything to a t .you are amazing guys am glad I got to share the amazing memories and experience with all of you .take care my friend and I like the sound of bing called dave lol

  Michael not (dave) lol Nov 4, 2017 1:41 PM

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