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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Hangin' Out with Elephants

THAILAND | Thursday, 5 March 2020 | Views [368]

You simply can't do a trip to Thailand without seeing elephants. These creatures are so majestic. This morning I said goodbye to Shirley and thanked her for hosting me. She's agreed to send me a postcard from Myanmar; one of the few countries I haven't received a postcard from. Since the bus to Nong Khai, on the border with Laos, leaves at 8 PM combined with the fact that I have a small bag gave me an opportunity to do an elephant tour before leaving this evening. 

Years ago I wrote down a list of 100 travel goals, and one of them was to ride an elephant in Thailand. However, riding them is bad for their backs so I specifically scoped out an operator that doesn't allow riding of elephants. Into the hills we all went but this morning I was tired and unfocused. When asked for my receipt I inadvertently handed the guide my receipt from the dentist, and later on I went into the women's bathroom to change into our "elephant uniform." Trust me, don't want to wear your regular clothes when you're getting all muddy with elephants. First, our guide talked a bit about the elephants. The difference between African and Asian elephants are that African elephants are larger, and both male and female African elephants have tusks, whereas only male Asian elephants can grow tusks. Ears of African elephants are also larger and more distinct, roughly shaped like the African continent. Asian elephants' ears are round. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any animal: they're pregnant 18-22 months and give birth to one calf. 

Then we fed the elephants: they eat bananas, sugar cane, and all sorts of other good stuff.

Elephant have all four feet on the ground, so their trunk functions as a "hand;" they pick the food up with their trunk and then put it in their mouth. Asian elephants are herbivores and consume up to 150 kg of plant matter daily. They drink as many as 200 litres of water per day. We then got in the mud with elephants. Due to injuring my big toe yesterday I was reluctant to get in the mud due to risk of infection. Everyone else scrubbed the elephants in mud.

All muddy, the elephants were led to the stream where we all rinsed them off with buckets of water. This time I took the plastic bag off my foot and got in the water.

The elephants were squeaky clean but we were all wet and muddy, and it was time to have a shower and then feast on pad thai for lunch. It's hard to go wrong with pad thai but this time it was pretty drab. 

At the end of our elephant fun I got the coolest souvenir: a photo of me in a frame made from elephant poo. Proceeds from the sale go toward elephant food and maintenance of the sanctuary. Such a fun outing on my final day in Chiang Mai, and I'd much rather see an elephant than ride one. 

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