Patara Elephant Farm
13.06.2012 30 °C
Just came back from one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Today I got the priviledge to be an "Elephant Owner for a Day" through Patara Elephant Farm. It was the most expensive tour that we had done thus far but I wanted to make sure that if I was going to interact with elephants that I did it properly. There is a lot of mistreatment of elephants in Thailand through "circus" type shows and I wanted to make sure that the place that we were going to visit was treating their elephants well.
We got picked up nice and early and headed about 45 minutes outside of Chiang Mia where the Elephant farm was located. We met the rest of the people in our group and then went over to greet 2 mother elephants and their 2 babies. Absolutely adorable! After many pictures, feeding the elephants sugar cane and bananas, and learning one of the baby elephants practises Muay Thai in his spare time (playfully hits or kicks anybody he sees), it was time to change in to our "training clothes" and meet our elephant we wold be loowarneeking after for the day. I was assigned a female elephant name Noi who was 8 months pregnant. Before I went to meet her, the head trainer warned me that she was difficult because she was hungry all the time...makes sense when you are feeding a couple hundred pound elephant inside you I guess. We then took a basket of food over to our assigned elephants to make friends and also to check if they were healthy. The ways to tell if your elephant is healthy were as follows: wagging their tails and ears, they have dirt on both sides of their bodies ( means they slept lying down), sweating on their toe nails, and they have 6+ poops that are moist and don't stink! Well my elephant was happy and healthy so on to the next stage of owning an elephant...bathing one!
We brushed all the dirt off our elephants before leading them down to the river for their bath. You can genuinely tell elephants love water. We bathed and scrubbed them for quite a while until they were sparkling clean and then brushed their tusks by rubbing them down with sand. We finished off by having a water fight with them. Lets just say that the elephants definitely won!
After they were all clean we learned how to get up on our elephant. There were 3 different ways to get on the elephant and it all depended on what way the elephant preferred. My elephant would lift his one leg and then I climbed up his leg like a ladder. Was actually way easier then I thought. You then sit on their necks and steer them by putting your toes behind their ears! We learned all the Thai commands for riding our elephants but I'm pretty sure either my Thai sucks or my pregnant elephant had a mind of its own. To dismount the elephant, the elephant lowered their head and I slid off the trunk. The whole day I felt like Mogolie off the jungle book.
We then ode our elephant for about 45 minutes to where we ate a beautiful traditional Thai lunch. The food was so delicious. Anything that we didn't finish we fed to our elephants afterwards...they eat 10% of their body weight each day! That's alot. Then came my favorite part of the day...swimming with the elephants in the waterfall. The babies were so playful in the water. You could jump on their back and they had about a million ways to get you off! The older elephants were so gentle and calm in the water...the babies on the otherhand loved to rough house! Most fun I've had in a while. After sliding down the natural water slide we made the trek back to where we started.
We said goobye to our elephants and with that we were left with some parting words; eat like an elephant ( a diet high in fruits and veggies), live like an elephant (with family in harmony with the land), and love like an elephant (monogamous; a happy wife makes for a happy life)!
What a great day! Will miss my elephant Noi!