BootsnAll Travel Network

March 28th – Nellie The Elephant Packed Her Trunk And Trundled Off To The Jungle


Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

Early start for our 1 day trekking adventure today. We were joined by a Belgian family of 5 and a couple from the Czech Republic (no relation to anyone from last night). The day involved a short hike to waterfalls – it was so hot everyone just about fell into the water. My sister and O went for a swim and tried to brave the falls but kept getting pushed back by the force. Another short exhausting trek to a hilltribe village to see some local handicrafts. Well they say village but it was tiny and you really felt like the word was out as soon as we wandered in – TOURISTS BRINGING MONEY. The kids were cute and we saw women weaving scarves (which of course you had to buy). It’s hard to know whether to barter or not, I did meekly try but she didn’t budge not even by 10 Baht.

The hilltribes have come from places like Myanmar (still known as Burma here) and Tibet. Th Thai government allows them to live with no paperwork in the hills for 6/7 years before they qualify for official papers and can move to the cities to look for jobs. It is a hard life and made worse by the fact that they no longer grow Opium as the King recognised this was bad and has taught them to make money from tourists, selling handicrafts. Hmmmm me thinks selling handicrafts does not pay for all the alcohol I saw. I also wonder how much tourism would be affected if the tribes were not resident in Northern Thailand – it certainly is in the Thai government’s interest to keep them here.

The afternoon saw us all take a ride on an elephant. I had mixed feelings about this. My sister had wanted to go to an elephant training camp where you get to spend 3 days training with an elephant and learning commands etc but the courses were full and not running in April due to the hot weather. Each elephant for the ride had a trainer or Mahout who was equipped with a wooden handled instrument with a metal smooth hook on the end. I didn’t like to think why this was used. The elephants are chained up on the foot when not “in use” and as a Westerner again not something I like to see. Saying that the trainers all seem to have a relationship with their elephant and the hour long trek included stops, scratches on trees and lots of water from the river whenever the elephant wanted. Our trainer spoke English so we learned about our ride – Jokia a 20 year old female whose family was also in the elephant group – there were 5 elephants all together. The trainer asked Josh if he wanted to ride on her head – with his legs behind her ears – “you boy or lady boy?” he said but nothing would make him do it! The ride was very lurchy and unlike anything I have ever been on before. Jokia would spurt water in her trunk when he said “zoom zoom zoom” but she was nice to us and we didn’t get wet. We treated her to lots of bananas at the end and just hoped that her life is not too awful. I can’t help contemplating if we making it worse for them riding them, thus perpetuating the need for captive elephants or better as the money stops them being used for work or for worse things. I can’t deice and it keep me awake that night – never mind all the children in the hilltribe – it’s the elephant’s plight that makes an impact.

The second part of the afternoon is spent floating on the river on a bamboo raft. We have a guide with long bamboo pole at the front and Josh (with pole) at the back. The river in parts is so shallow the bamboo grates against the bottom but there are a few very small rapids and it a relaxing end to the day. Relaxing until you get soaked by the kids who are all playing in the river and love nothing better than to soak all the passing farang! We got a few good shots in between us – Josh fell over at one point and managed to trap his knee in between the poles – the guide had to prise them apart with his pole – meanwhile we were heading straight into a min rapid – it was all very exciting in a “River Runs Wild” kind of way – well more like “Stream Runs Quickly” way.

After all the fresh air we all fell asleep quickly and slept like logs.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *