You see elephants every day in Thailand. Just walking down the road, or unfortunately chained up by the side of the road.
They were used for working in the logging industry but a few years ago a law was passed that stopped large trees being logged. So elephants were out of work. And for some of them this means being tied up by the side of the road and taking tourists for walks all day, or begging on the streets. So when we decided to go on an elephant trek I wanted to make sure we were going somewhere where they were being treated kindly and well. And I hope we picked a good place.
There were about eight elephants kept where we went. And they live there with their handlers who are called mahouts. The mahouts at this place come from Tibet. And they live and sleep there with the elephants.
Daz and I had an elephant who was called Faktong, which means Pumpkin. Although it should really mean, very cheeky and a fast runner. He is the youngest there and the only male.
Here is Daz giving him some food. They just shove it in.
The mahout who handled little Faktong was talking to him all the time, patting him and laughing with him. Especially when he took off at a gallop trying to overtake everyone. He was probably saying – lets scare the crap out of these stupid farangs.
Here we all are about half way through. Can't say its a comfortable ride. But they have such character and personalities.
Not all elephants have that depigmentation on the trunks and ears. Think its only asian elephants. But they all have a stack of muscles in there. Over 40,000. And they are extremely dextrous with them. They can pick up tiny little things with them.
This little guy was born in captivity. He had the most amazing eyes that you can't really see. They're like marbles. Not cats eyes though. Round. With rings then more rings. Very bright.
This is Ohm. She was our guide for the day. Talk about a pocket rocket. We were running to keep up with her all day. She was fantastic and like every other thai person we met had a great sense of humour.
Next we went to watch the monkey twisting coconuts. I was hoping they weren't going to beat him with a stick to make him do it but it turns out he does it for a popper. They start training them when they are about two. And this little guy was like a typical two year old. He was always more interested in what was going on behind him.
When they have been trained they go to work and pick about 150 coconuts a day. Which didn't seem many actually because he picked the ten we saw in about 5 seconds.
Ahhh, one of my favourite parts of the holiday. Next we got to go on a ride in the ox cart. That wasn't my favourite part. It was when Jem stormed up all cranky and said – who's idea was it to put J up on the oxen?? And we all went - ummm, his, and pointed to the guy who worked there.
There are 2.3 million oxen in Thailand, working on farms. Ohm told us though that soon they won't be needed because technology has arrived in the form of tractors. I hope the technology is a bit more up to date than the jeep we were driving in.
Then we watched coconuts get smashed and coconut oil be made. It had the most beautiful smell. I bought a bottle but it started leaking so I couldn't bring it home. Oh and we ate peanuts cooked in the coconut oil and they were fresh and lovely.
Then we had curry cooking class. The lady made some curry paste then cooked us a chicken curry. OMG – so good. but HOT!!
You could buy the little packs of curry paste there on the table. green is mildest, then red and green mix for what they consider medium but was bloody hot to me, then all red which looked mean. I wanted to buy some but didn't think I'd be able to bring it back through customs. But I can make my own here anyway.
The day ended with a sunset cruise on a traditional junk boat which was nice. Although I never did find out where the life jackets were.