We were picked up at our hotel at 6:45am in a mini bus full of 9 other people ready to go. First we had to stop at the tour office so Jan and I could pay for the trip (so mundane)!
45 minutes later we arrived at Baanchang Elephant Park, who provide a home to domesticated Asian elephants and orphaned babies as well as those that have been mistreated in circuses or shows.
Visitors change into clothing to look like a mahout (elephant handler) but really just to protect your own clothes and well needed! I must admit they are the height of fashion!
All the elephants are in one area and chained to keep everyone safe as we were told with 45 elephants in the park, all are not friendly to each other because of the abuse that they have received.
This one seems to cause a lot of problems so is double chained. They even had to chain the 18 month old baby as it smashed its enclosure!
We learned that the Asian elephant is much smaller than the African and that elephants in Thailand are no longer able to be used in the timber industry. Elephants eat between 100 -125 kg of food so the first order of the day was to feed them as 80% of their day is spent eating. We fed them bananas and sugar cane but saw that they also liked corn stalks.
They have much larger front feet which have 5 toes while the back feet only have 4 toes. They can weigh up to 5 tonne. (These are back feet)
The look on my face tells it all!
The poor elephant! I was hanging on to its hair for dear life!
But I did it! Proud of myself. Didn't get any easier as then we had to ride them around the area to get the hang of it! You sit right behind their head and use your heels to kick behind the ears to make them go left or right. Does not work! The hide on the elephant is so hard I'm sure they can't feel anything? Thank God for handlers!
Different storey for Jan...she loved it!
So after everyone had a go, we were off around the park, 2 to an elephant. Much better, Jan was in front of me so I couldn't see the ground, but going downhill was a bit scary.
This rope was all I had to hang on to!
A bit slow going but then don't think I would have liked it any faster! The elephant kept flicking its ears while we rode and I had to be careful where my legs were because their ears are so strong it hurts when they flick you.
At the end of the ride the handlers took them in the water and we went in after them to give them a wash! Scrubbed them with a scrub brush and mine certainly didn't like getting cleaned behind the ears! As soon as I'd try to scrub, she'd flick her ear.
We then showered and changed back into our clothes ready for lunch...very tasty Pad Thai and pineapple! Just right to finish an amazing day!
Before we got on the bus to head back to our hotels, we visited the two babies that they have in the park, one 18 months and the other one was 7months. Both very cheeky!