Elephant trekking and motorbiking

15 Apr

Even though we spent most of the day before engaged in waterfighting, we did manage to notice a couple of signs that said there was elephant trekking around 12km away, so we thought we would go and have a look and see how much it was.

It was fairly reasonable at £12 each for half an hour, so we decided to go for it as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages and have not managed to get a chance to yet. The elephants had seats on them, which I have heard from some sites that this causes them pain and it is better to ride on their necks. I am not sure whether it was hurting them as we didn’t see any in distress – when we came, some elephants were walking round and the others were standing in the shade being fed bananas and palm leaves. Although the mahouts had hooks, we only saw this being used once when our elephant really wanted to go down a different track to nibble things, so he got a bit of a whack which we all winced at but for everything else, the mahout just talked gently to the elephant and it plodded through the jungle, plucking at bits of tree and grass as he went. None of the elephants had any open cuts or hook marks on them.

The mahout sat on the elephant’s massive head, and we sat on the chair with our feet on it’s broad neck

The mahout had been working with this elephant for four years and the elephant understood when he wanted to get down, and lowered his head so the mahout could hop off. The rocking to and fro whilst we were going along was a bit disconcerting at first, especially as we were so high up (having only seen elephants on tv or in a safari park from a distance it was a shock to see how HUGE they really are), but he never put an enormous foot wrong. Soon after setting off, the mahout hopped off and instructed Craig to sit on the elephant’s neck, with me in the middle of the seat, so I don’t think overall the pressure on the elephant’s back was too bad. There was a lot of padding under the chair and they were given breaks in between walks.

Halfway through the walk, we swapped places and it was my turn to sit on the elephant’s neck. You could feel every muscle in his neck and head moving as he walked round, his skin was very tough and leathery and his bristles were like brush bristles they were so spiky! I put my hands on his head and my legs right behind his ears, which batted me whilst he was walking along. His ears were so huge that they made a slapping noise every time he flapped them :)

We went through jungle with flowering trees, buffalo and palms but all too soon it was over. We bought our elephant a bunch of bananas to say thank you and went to wash our hands. I kept a close eye on what happened next – I didn’t want to see him being marched off for the next walk straight away – but was pleased to see his mahout leading him off to the shade for a drink and a cool down. I went to take a picture but he said that I could help…so I poured water down the elephant’s trunk, assuming he was swallowing it…but no, he was saving it to pour into his mouth in one go. They can swallow up to 10 litres at a time and it sounded like a bath had been tipped over. The mahout said that they can drink up to 200 or 300 litres a day on hot days, and they needed several showers to keep cool so I hosed the elephant down and then filled up his trunk again, but this time he sprayed it all over himself

It was such an amazing experience…to be on top of such a big, gentle creature and then to wash it and to see them up close. He trotted off to his tree where he was fed palm leaves in the shade so we left him in peace and went to explore the mountains a bit further. We found a little place called Sunset View on the side of the mountain where you could see miles out to sea

and then went back to the guesthouse for a swim in the pool and a relaxing afternoon. Except that at some point, it was decided that I should learn how to ride the bike. There are plenty of small, deserted tracks round here which is a good job considering how disastrously the first attempt went in Cambodia. But this time I managed to go in a sort of straight line and sort of turn round corners (with Craig on the back) so 100% better than the first experience. I don’t like how the bike is so heavy when it’s not going – turning it round is quite an effort – but straight lines have now been mastered but for the first hour I refused to go over 20kmph as it was pretty scary. I don’t think I’ll ever be a biker chick but after a bit more practice on the quiet roads here, I should hopefully be able to drive us at least slowly if there was ever an emergency with Craig and we were miles away from anywhere.

As our hotel room has a fridge, we nipped to Tesco Lotus round the corner to get a few bits for lunch to save some cash…although this didn’t really work out because to our delight, we found real cheese. We haven’t had proper cheese in forever aside from the odd bit of mozzarella on pizzas, so we were pretty excited and conveniently decided to ignore the fact that a block of cheese costs more than most meals here. We loaded up on mature chedder, brie, garlic and herb cream cheese, bread, butter, salami, ham and crisps etc and managed to spend £40. Oops. The Tesco’s itself was amazing, with a large array of weird and wonderful fresh mushrooms (we’re going to ask Tom if we can borrow his kitchen so we can cook up an awesome carbonara), ginormous fresh prawns, takeaway dried fish with the bones sticking up through the clingfilm, a special monk isle where they can buy their robes (Tesco is nothing if not opportunistic) and people can buy them monk buckets full of toiletries or snacks to give them in the morning, lifejackets, sacks of rice and noodles…everything you can possibly imagine. The one thing we couldn’t find, even in the international food aisle (stuffed full of sauerkraut and Nestle coffee, was Marmite. Our stock is running dangerously low.

But even with that crushing blow, we are enjoying our time on Koh Samui. Tom and Sarah are very nice and I am looking forward to starting work tomorrow with Akky, the other boy who is helping them, who arrived today, and Craig can’t wait to try out the new fishing gear he bought here the other day whilst I am at work. Might help with getting back into the swing of working again when we get to Australia…

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5 Responses to “Elephant trekking and motorbiking”

  1. The Blissful Adventurer 15 April 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    The photograph with the painted toenails and the elephant is engaging and provocative. A wonderful post

    • toaustraliathelongway 16 April 2012 at 1:42 am #

      Thank you very much! Talking of posts, would it be ok if I sent you something to possibly use as a guest post? I saw you’re looking for people at the moment :)

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