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elephants, coconuts, monkeys and curry January 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — panthergirl @ 4:45 am
Tags: , , ,

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.

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12 Responses to “elephants, coconuts, monkeys and curry”

  1. LeendaDLL Says:

    random trivia: an elephant's trunk is so dexterous that it could pick up a single thread off a smooth floor, if it wanted to.

  2. Mr FD's paternal grandfather used to hunt elephants in Ceylon / Srl Lanka. Horrible to think of it now, but FIL can tell the stories from his childhood.

  3. cat Says:

    I can imagine – amazing. They sort of hover around looking for things to eat. Someone dropped their water bottle and the elephant stopped and picked it up and passed it back up to them.

  4. cat Says:

    Sad. They are lovely animals. You can still buy things in Thailand made with ivory. Not that I would, but you wouldn't get them through customs here now anyway.

  5. The elephant handlers were from Tibet? How can this be? Tibet seems like the most unfriendly place for an elephant: cold, thin-aired, rocky, and steep.

  6. cat Says:

    I don't know how it happens. The elephants are from thailand but the mahouts are from Tibet. They came from Tibet, through Burma, to Thailand and are considered excellent handlers of elephants. I was looking at the pure red past and it looked really mean. lots of seeds and very rich. Its funny because I noticed when we had dinner Ohm had the red curry paste but then put chilli sauce on top of it as well. They eat chilli every meal I think. Their insides must be squeaky clean.

  7. Katiebell Says:

    Loving the Elephants. Not so much on mnkeys though the photos are great!!!!!

  8. Shutterbug Says:

    It's refreshing to see a place where elephants are cared for properly, and with so much love and affection. I love the picture of your family on the elephants!

  9. cat Says:

    Well I hope they are. Its hard to know how they train the elephants, but they seemed to really care for them

  10. cat Says:

    aww, he was a cute little monkey – the elephants were gorgeous

  11. cyndia Says:

    I love elephants! They look so friendly in your photos! Your guide does look full of energy! In that first picture she looks so young… I was even going to ask if she was just a kid… but in the others she begins to look adult.
    It sounds like a wonderful trip!!

  12. cat Says:

    She was just tiny. And she raced from one station to the next. When we had dinner that night I noticed she had en enormous plate of food. She didn't look very old. Twenty maybe. She was like a school teacher.


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