The view from an elephant's bristly neck is awesome.
Taking photos with one hand as you lumber along is tricky. The photos of Paula and I were taken by Theo, my mahout. Photos of me alone were either by Paula or Theo.
Perched up there, on top of Mokasuop's head, it looked a long way down......it was!
For some reason I thought we'd follow a smooth, level path, being first time riders, but before long we were leaving the main camp..............
............... via the river bed! Paula is smiling despite our initial concerns of toppling over our elephant's head into the water. That rope was our only hang-on-to-thingy as we headed downhill!
Passing the rest of our group heading in the opposite direction, the rocky pathway is clearly visible.......
.............but we continued without any problems except for the throbbing in the thighs which came with holding ones legs in a new position. Paula and I agreed we should have taken yoga lessons for six months before attempting elephant riding! The younger members of our group, and yes, they were all younger of course, managed to ride longer and were able to stand up when they got off. We almost collapsed in a heap on the ground......and yes, I did slide down Mokasuop's trunk to dismount, a wonderful experience.
Big boulders but apparently no problem for those big feet.
So we rode on, patient, gentle, lovely ladies (the elephants, not us!) for about 45 minutes.......how we made it that long was incredible. You have no idea how painful it was for our legs, holding them up behind those flapping ears! We were told to rest them by letting them hang straight down now and then, however in that position you did not feel secure, wobbling from side to side, plus our shoulders were somewhat achy from the tension of holding on.
Reaching the road which led to the forest where the waterfall rushed into the river, Paula and I opted to take the van uphill for the additional mile plus ride, realizing more riding might impede our being able to stand up to go sightseeing the next day! Getting off our mighty steeds, we almost collapsed when our legs buckled under us, but of course were thrilled that we had ridden elephants bareback.
When we all gathered at the river the elephants waited patiently for their swim - they love the water - and many of the group went in the water with them.
Elephants, and people, having fun. View from the picnic area.
The mahouts produced an amazing picnic lunch served on a bamboo platform above the river. On a 'tablecloth' of banana leaves, they set out chicken, fresh fruit and sweet coconut desserts, and the little packets of leaves tied with raffia at each place setting contained hot food..........
....including my vegetarian version of rice with delicious veggies, lemongrass and lime, along with sticky rice and other Thai delicacies, all perfection!
A picnic to remember!
Paula and I so enjoyed this elephant experience............and would recommend it to anyone spending time in northern Thailand.
Lovely creatures. Gentle giants who are often treated badly, even being destroyed in some countries for their ivory tusks. These have to be the most awesome animals on our planet...............hopefully they will never become an endangered species and good breeding farms, such as Patara near Chiang Mai, will make certain that Thailand's Asian elephants will survive - forever.