elephant day! elephant day! elephant day!
so we got up super early and got picked up at our hotel and then headed out to see the elephants.
it took around an hour and a half to get out to Patara Elephant Farm.
i was as giddy as a schoolgirl. elephants, elephants, elephants.
so we got there and we bug sprayed and put on sunscreen. and then we played with a couple mom's and their babies. besides because they are super adorable and cute, i think the people running the show wanted to see a bit of our personalities and better able to match us with appropriate elephants.
on the way down to meet our elephants, one girl noticed a massive elephant with huge tusks. the guide laughed and said yes that was one of the bigger male. and then he looked at me and says that should be your elephant. and laughed.
he then explained how to approach your elephant. in my mind, i was picturing being accepted by a hippogriff. having to bow and look in the eyes and not show fear. what we had to do what walk straight up to it from the front, don't be afraid, and feed it. so it was exactly like a hippogriff :) apparently the best way to make friends with an elephant is feed it. so we were given baskets of bananas and sugar cane.
AND then...the assignments. turns out the guide wasn't joking. he assigned me the massive elephant with the tusks. his name is booyong. (boo- yong -yong like long) i really have no idea how to spell it.
before approaching we have to make sure the elephant is happy. ears flapping, tail wagging = happy elephant. his were so i approached and feed him.
we were mfeo.
after meeting them we came back to learn how to learn to make sure the elephant was healthy.
4 ways to know an elephant is healthy
1. it is happy- ears flapping, and tail wagging
2. dirt on both sides..that means they slept on the ground. sick elephants sleep standing up because it is harder for them to get up once down when they are sick.
3. sweating. elephants sweat on their toe nails. sweaty toe nails = healthy elephant
4. pooping. pooping means eating. we had to smell the poop, and actually squeeze it to make sure there was enough water. gross. but actually it is mostly just fiber from grass and things. booyong is only 14. so the fiber was super fine. he still has good teeth. older elephants you have longer pieces of fiber. ok probably tmi. but i found it interesting. eh.
booyong. was good on all counts.
then i had to walk him down and brush him off. try and get the excess dirt off of him before his bath. to 'lead' him (i really don't think you can lead an elephant anywhere. pretty sure they lead you) you grab an ear and say 'mai' which i assume means come in thai. and then 'how' means stop. booyong wouldn't leave until after he got a huge bushel of grass and put it on his tusks. for the road.
after the brushing it was bath time. he just sat down in the river and had a grand time. brush with the wrinkles. like when you brush a horse you follow the hair patterns. same thing. just wrinkles instead of hair.
after the bath..it was time to ride!
getting on was interesting. and not pretty. but oh well. i got on. we went around the area just testing it out. making sure we could handle it. we had to say bi-bi for going. and tap the elephant's ears for him to go. push the right ear to turn left and the left ear to go right. again. i don't think you really steer an elephant. they made sure we wouldn't die and ..
then off to the waterfall. we walked up crazy narrow passages through the mountain jungle. really really narrow passages. booyong liked to travel the path less taken. finding different routes. eating anything he could find on the way. (14 yr old boys...) a couple of times he reached his trunk all they away up to get some food. that was a little scary. also he spooked once. terrifying. so we traversed the jungle. made it to the waterfall. we first had lunch and then swimming with the elephants. so awesome.
it started raining when we were at the waterfall. so swimming with elephants in the rain made it even more amazing. then we rode back through the jungle in the pouring rain. probably the best thing ever. although now we were going down hill. and seeing tiny paths flood with water isn't too comforting...and then you remember that you are on a massive elephant that won't slip.
booyong liked to be funny and stop mid mountain and you know scratch his back, or go down a steeper incline. whatevs. it is cool. after we got back i told the tour guy that my elephant liked to go on different paths and do whatever. and he said. yes. he is crazy. personalities match....oh good. i'm crazy. i think i was a little too eager with the baby elephants and didn't show any fear...so i got the crazy elephant. lol. the guide did say he doesn't like dealing with teenagers so he is glad to make us instead.
it is crazy elephants definitely have their own personality. and are strangely aware of their size. booyong was big and sometimes a smaller elephant would make it through a pass and he would stop think about it and realize he was too big to walk that way. or he was just honey badger and didn't care.
basically. i loved every minute of it and kept having to ask if this was real life.