Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Laos, Elephant Riding


As I watch some of the world's largest land animals casually walk around, I am amazed at man's ability to domesticate them. In a way, I am jealous of Fred and Barney because they got to ride a dinosaur while I will have to settle for an elephant.

These gentle giants can be interesting to watch as they interact with their handlers or visitors that take a liking to petting or feeding them. I am not sure why but their eyes seem to express a bit of sadness which gives me a ping of guilt for being here.


016However, from petting and feeding them, I think I get the nod that in the end they don't mind taking us for a ride.





Climbing a custom built platform, we make our way onto a few tons of flesh and bones. A handler casually sits on the massive head with a tool in his hand that makes me a bit uncomfortable. It's a small ax like tool that is used to control the elephant. My uncomfortableness eases when I think of it as a rein on a horse instead of a pick ax.






Our ride takes us down a well marked trail and with a continuous rolling and sliding motion we take in a bit of Lao jungle scenery.



VID02805With long legs I am able to feel the warmth of huge ears as they flap back and forth near my feet.

In a way I hope he has seen Dumbo and thinks he can fly.



With a series of unusual verbal sounds and the touching of the ears with his feet, I believe this is how our handler commands the elephant. In a interesting mix of the animal world and technology, along the path, the handler reaches into his pocket and starts dialing. I just hope there is a law here against texting while elephant driving.



011Eventually we are taken across Tad Se Waterfall.

However, it is not as amazing as it would be in the rainy season.






It is still a bit breathtaking as the elephant makes his way down a ramp into a pool area below the falls.

The most exciting thing happens as we on our way out of the pool. A little chicken crosses the path of the elephant and he becomes spooked letting out a “OMG” get that thing away from me sound. I am glad it was not a mouse.

I thought I was riding an elephant, however for a moment we were on the world's biggest chicken.



028Back at our starting point, all is forgiven as we reward our elephant with a bunch of bananas and thank him for not totally freaking out on us back there.







031Probably The Best Fresh Pineapple In The World


Part of our tour package includes lunch which like all the food I have had in Laos turns out to be delicious. A hot clear broth soup and stir fried rice done Lao style followed by fresh pineapple for desert hits the right spot.




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