Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Day with the Elephants

So life has been pretty busy since we got back from vacation. I've been teaching all week in Bentleigh, a suburb which requires me to take a tram, then a train, then a bus to get to the school. I've been in a Grade 3/4 classroom, and it's been good. I just haven't had much time to do blog entries when my commute is over an hour each way. 

On top of that, one of our camera memory cards has an error, and it's currently being fixed (hopefully), so we can get our missing pictures from Thailand, including the amazing temples in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Until then, I'll be doing random posts, but they won't necessarily be in order. This first one will be about our day with the elephants in Chiang Mai, which is in the Northern part of Thailand.

We spent a day at Thai Elephant Home. This is something I booked online before we left, and it was one of the activities I was looking forward to the most. It didn't disappoint. A van picked us up from our hotel in the morning, and we drove up into the jungle/mountainous area outside of the city. We changed into our snazzy blue outfits and Joe, the owner, taught us a little bit about elephants (Asian vs. African, physical characteristics, etc.). We also learned a few commands, but that would prove pointless, as the elephants only really listened to the mahouts (their trainers).

After our briefing, we said a short prayer to the elephant god and fed the elephants some bananas. I guess this was so we could get comfortable with them. We were each assigned an elephant and rode around the grounds in three circles before heading out on the real trail.

They bend down nicely so you can climb on!
We rode through the jungle on our assigned elephants, passing through a shallow river and going uphill. Zack had the biggest elephant of all, and he was first in line. I was right behind him on a normal sized elephant. It was kind of like riding a big horse. I tucked my legs in behind its ears, pressed my palms on its head for balance, and it was all good!
We stopped somewhere in the jungle for lunch, which was pad thai wrapped in banana leaves. It was still warm. Yum! And we got to feed the leftovers to the elephants; those animals like to eat!

After riding a bit more, we stopped at a mud pit and spent some time covering a few elephants with the black goop. They loved it! I guess it's like a spa for them...really good for their skin. They just flopped right over and let us dump the mud all over them. They kind of got it all over us as well!

Zack's big elephant and the beautiful jungle.
We bought bananas and sugar cane along the way to feed our elephants.
Here's my view when mine was wanting a treat!
My favorite part of the day was next. We went back to a deeper part of the river, and we got to swim with our elephants! They loved it too; they were splashing and ducking their heads underwater and playing around. Doesn't my elephant look like she's smiling in the picture below?

After playing in the river, we got back on our elephants for a bit more riding back to the camp. We got some rainy downpours, but we were wet anyway, and it kind of fit in with the jungle atmosphere, so we didn't mind at all. Back at camp, we took showers, ate fresh pineapple, and soaked our feet in herbal water before they drove us back to our hotel. What an amazing day and an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Full disclosure: As incredible as our day with the elephants was, my ankles did break out with these strange (extremely itchy) red bumps the next day, which we have since determined must be mite bites that I contracted from my elephant. Both ankles (which were exposed and tucked behind the elephant's ears) were affected, and I have one bite on my wrist. Zack has a couple on his legs as well, but I definitely got the worst of it. Nearly three weeks later, I still have about thirty big nasty itchy scabs that won't go away. Oh well; my day with the elephants was worth it!


  1. Aubree, You look like a bunch of prisoners in your blue outfits. I am glad you had fun. The insect bites look awful itchy.

  2. Hi could you tell me what treatment is neede for these elephant bites as mine won't go away and are serious. Many thanks

    1. I ended up having to go to the doctor back in Melbourne and was given some prescription cream to put on them. They eventually went away, but the doctor didn't know exactly what they were (he guessed mites as well). Good luck!

  3. Hi Aubree i just got back from thailand 1 week ago and have been getting bitten every night with 5/6 new bites on my legs. I wondered if your doctor gave you anything to spray as i think i must of bought the elephant mites back home with me either on my bed or living on my skin. I am concerned and will go to the gp today but is there any advice you could give me.