Posted by: Moon | July 21, 2008

Elephants ……..

The only way to get 'on-board' !

The only way to get 'on-board' !

Well, one of my favorite subjects, and one I can talk about for hours …. Elephants.

My JoJo

My JoJo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have always loved the elephant, so big, imposing, powerful, yet they seem to have some serene gracefulness. I travelled to Thailand for the 1st time in Sept 2007, with Ma, sister R, and brother-in-law, Sir Chilli Boy. We toured Bangkok, took a train north to Chang Mai, Pi, Chang Rai.. all in all, one of the best times of my life. During out tour, organised by purserverance.tours (my sister), we did a day visit to an elephant Sanctuary in Lampang. The camp is about an hour drive from Chang Mai, in the middle of the jungle. I was amazed, such a wonderful place, a place where you could get close to the elephants, feed them, touch them, be part of them. Now the camp was stuck in my brain. One of the things they did was taking your Joe Average tourist, and letting them stay in the camp, and train to become a Mahout for three days. I loved the idea of being so close to them, to be part of this magical place.

Well, I had a spare two weeks, had no idea what to do, so I returned to Lampang, and took the course. It changed my life, so, so much. Speechless in how close I became to my elephant JoJo. I also met ‘mahout girl’….. never thought we would keep in touch, but we have … A very special lady to me, from Quebec, with her husband, some of the other Mahouts left after day 1, leaving the three of us together, just us and our elephants, we would sit at night, talking, Mahout Girl in her very good English, me in my very poor French, talking about wildlife, and past and future travels, I had made a friend for life. I returned to home, and by now was desperately in Love with the future Mrs M, and we decided to go away on our first holiday … where to go .. well, Mrs M has friends in Mexico, but that was not going to be cheap, so I tentatively suggested Thailand, my third trip in 7 months.

Mrs M took to Thailand like a second home. i am very lucky, she is not a high maintenance girl, no need for make up, and is happy to get stuck into things. We arrived in Chang Mai again, and set off for our three days in the camp, Mrs M, slightly nervous at this prospect, but excited, and ready to do anything to be close to the elephants. well, again, it was incredible. On walking around the camp, Mrs M for the first time, we passed a filthy murky large lake …..

 

Me ; “Hey, fancy a swim ?”

Mrs M ; “What ?”

Me: “Fancy a swim, in there ?”

Mrs M “Wild horses wouldn’t get me in there”

Me “Wild Elephants ?” 

She looked very puzzled, within half an hour, changed into our very fetching blue Mahout suits, on the back of Luchann, and JoJo.. in we went, Bath and play time… I have never laughed so much…. my laughter only stopped with a mouthful of disgusting, Elephant bath water !. To be with the Elephants as they bathed, and played, it was wonderful, so, so much fun. After the first bath, we couldn’t wait for bath time again. Tourists gathered to watch, take photos, it really made you feel separate and special, one of the staff, with your own elephant.

Another amazing experience was seeing the 1 month old baby elephant, watching him play, running like a young puppy, and being able to blow down his nose, very special. He would run up to you, push you, want to play like a puppy. Then trumpet for his mother, running, scampering, always wanting to play. He loved to feel you blow down his trunk, then he would blow back. I was amazed at his strength, and how he never went far without his mum.

Mrs M and a 1 Month old baby Elephant ...

Mrs M and a 1 Month old baby Elephant ... Off to take breakfast to Luchann and JoJo

JoJo and the other elephants changed me as a person. I’m serious here, they really effected me. Every morning at 5.30am, as the morning dawned we would walk with lengths of sugar cane over our shoulders to find out elephants in the jungle, Mrs M looking for luchann, me for JoJo..

Me ; “I was sure I left him here”

Mrs M : “what does he look like ?”

Me : “A sodding big lump of grey! ”

“Jooooooooooooooooo Jooooooooooooooooooooooooo ……” 

We walked as the mist rose up from the jungle, Thai music being sung from a local school across the valley …a magical moment, makes the hairs on my neck stand up just thinking of that moment……

We learnt the commands of a Mahout, “Stand,” “Sit”  “lift me up, put me down, please can you pick up my Mahout stick I have dropped yet again”, and after we had shown all the ‘normal’ tourist what we could do, the charge of the bananas began, a short sprint (Amazing how fast they can move) to get their feed of Bananas !

So, after three tiring, but wonderful days we have a new qualification to our CV’s, Qualified Mahout, wages are poor, but you get a company Elephant ! good miles to the gallon, and your ruhbarb will be amazing ! Time to head off to Bangkok, and then Phi Phi, we had to say goodbye, I was determined to say goodbye like a man to JoJo… but no… tears were flooding again, a 36 year old man, in tears, but that is what these amazing animals can do to you, they are gentle, intelligent, sensitive, yet dangerous, powerful, immense animals.

 Just passing by at breakfast time !

 

I wish I had the words, the vocabulary,  expressions, command of the English language to be able to tell you all the feelings I had there, and the feelings and awe I still feel looking at these pictures and writing this blog.

 

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Responses

  1. Aww they look fabulous I love them too and understand your fondness. My son was in Phuket and surrounds in February and the elephants there weren’t nearly as well looked after, some had scars in their forehead from the mahut’s spike. Fantastic shots (worth a double click).

  2. Wow, it looks like a wonderful trip that you had! I can see you really love those big guys, especially JoJo – and they wouldn’t let you bring him home? Meanies!!

    One of our nephews would go to Thailand for his annual holiday, year after year. Guess what? Eventually he met a Thai girl, got married and stayed there. He’d never talked about the elephants though.

  3. WOW! What a totally unforgettable experience.
    I am jealous!

  4. Funnily enough, I just changed my desktop background to an elephant photo. I love elephants – just go look at my blog header.

  5. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience Moon. I’ve never been to Thailand, but your story makes me want to hop on the next plane. Lovely pictures of you and Mrs. M too!

  6. Aw cute! 🙂

  7. Moon,

    anyone that knows you will understand what they mean to you, how they helped you grow, and that you will always have that as one of the moments in your life that took your breathe away.
    thank you for sharing that part of your life, you will never know what it means to me to hear that trip was such a wonderful part of your life.

    i hope you have many many many more of those as thats what life should be about. xo p.s. i cried too when you told us of how you had to say good bye to jojo.

  8. Baino : I have a Mahout stick at home, keeps Mrs M in order !, they are very sharp at the pointy end, and they do use them quite hard, but you have to remember how thick skins the elephants are, but, they are treated very well here. I have hundreds of photos, I could bore you silly !

    Jay : Trust me, I wanted to, but he wouldn’t fit in the carry on case I had. The Thai girls are a different story … !!! scared the living shite out of me !

    CB : Mrs M always takes a good photo !, we adored the place, and the whole of Thailand, I will write another peice later on, great people, wonderful country.

    Trouble : I am no ‘big’ man, I wish I could have said goodbye properly, but I couldn’t, it was so magical, so wonderful… tears blubbed !!

  9. Jen : A lady of few words… not like you !!! x

  10. I got up close and personal with some elephants in Nepal. The safest way to travel thru the jungle is on an elephant because the big cats or nothing else for that matter will go near them. Sounds like a great trip.

  11. Quickroute : Where did you go ?, was it Chatwan ?, I have been there as well, that was my first time with elephants, didn’t see any tigers, we did see Rhino’s though ..wonderful in the early morning mist

  12. Thank you Moon, Elephants are incredible intelligent beings.

  13. Lump in throat revealing fluffy side of character I prefer to bury DEEP down…

    Sometimes animals touch a part of your heart you didn’t know existed. It’s a vulnerable and powerful thing.

    You’re a lucky guy, Moon. 🙂

  14. Jen : They always capture me, from a dog / cat to the wild things .. can’t get enough of them. we are going to Alaska for our honeymoon to see the grizzly bears !

  15. Alaska? You’ll be a hop, skip, & a jump from me. The Yukon borders Alaska, and we can actually drive SOUTH to Alaska. If you and Mrs. M. end up taking an Alaskan cruise, one of the ports is only a 2-hour drive south from where I live. You’ll have to tell me when so I can meet you two. Wouldn’t you like that on your honeymoon? 🙂
    Kidding aside, the offer is for real. Oh, and I’ll post a couple of grizzlies on my blog within the next couple of days to tantalize you.

  16. The most wonderful holiday ever… for many reasons… especially when you broke the ring. xxx I will never forget the Bamboo island.

  17. Mrs M : you are ruining a future post !!.. Also, stay AWAY from my Cottage Pie !!!

    Yukon ; Well, I guess it’s not that kind of Honeymoon, after all, we will be watching bears, not loved up, would have been married for over a year by then, so yes.. we love to meet up … also, need loads of advice please on where to go etc ….

  18. My bears are there now. You can e-mail me any time for questions about your trip to Alaska. Are you planning a cruise?

  19. Beautiful post, Moon, beautiful.

  20. Aw Moon, that was just really, really lovely -atmospheric and really touching. *sigh*

  21. Oh, Moon! I have tears in my eyes! First, because you say I’m a special lady… and also because I miss Wanna so much! 3 days only with her and I knew when she was scared, happy, excited because of the bananas but not so much with the bamboo sticks… but it was better than nothing! I’ll never forget the sounds of my big girl when she was trumpetting or just breath when I was on her back, it was like we were just one and not two.

    Hope to go back. Hope to see you again. Maybe with Jojo and Wanna. And Mrs M and Mr T of course!

  22. Stunning. Absolutely incredible. I have tears in my eyes, thanks Moon, made my morning!


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