I have always had love for animals and somehow been able to develop a connection with them. As a kid I owned two budgerigars, a male and a female who I believe were in love with each other. I named them Popeye and Olivia, I used to put their cage outside of my window and open it so they could get out to fly around. Everyday the same routine and they have always been back. Until one day when I noticed only one bird in the cage. I panicked where is Olivia and she was nowhere to be seen, Popeye was sitting in the cage constantly chattering but not leaving it, I figured he is calling her so I sat with him and kept whistling faking the parrot language. A few hours later Olivia was back with Popeye, I don’t know whether she got lost or needed a moment for herself but we all were happy she made it back. They lived happily ever after:)
One day I woke up with an idea of bathing an elephant, I cannot explain why but I had the urge to grab a brush and just scrub the giant imaging that it would spray me back with water.
Then I had numerous amount of hamsters, cats, dogs and a guinea pig. One of the dogs always knew what time it was. She would wake me up for school, walk me there and wait for me after I finished. She was the most clever animal I have ever come across. Unfortunately she did not make it home one day . . . I still miss her and wish she was by my side as the best dog friend I have ever had. She made me trust animals sometimes more than humans. I wanted to pat all the animals in the world.
One day I woke up with an idea of bathing an elephant, I cannot explain why but I had the urge to grab a brush and just scrub the giant imaging that it would spray me back with water. So one day while travelling in Thailand I made my dream come true. We travelled on a bus for about two hours north of Chiang- Mai then walked through some kind of forest/jungle for one hour to find ourselves surrounded by elephants. They were all kind of sizes from a baby to humongous ones. Despise the size I felt like I was not afraid of them. Until one got out of control a little bit…
Standing in front of a giant with the banana in my hand trying to aim for the elephants’ mouth all I could think of and see were it’s trunk and ivory tusks waving up and down in front of my face.
First we got to practise several tricks with the elephants, learnt a few Thai words to give them orders (unfortunately forgot all of them). Anyway every time they performed the given task their prize was a banana which we had to insert inside of their mouths. That’s when I realised I am dealing with a wild animal that I don’t know and can’t predict the behaviour of. Standing in front of a giant with the banana in my hand trying to aim for the elephant’s mouth all I could think of and see were its trunk and ivory tusks waving up and down in front of my face.
When I was posing for a photo with one of the elephants he decided to give me a kiss… He wrapped his trunk around my neck and with the end of it he sucked my neck as he was kissing me or giving me a hickey! It made a very funny sound and felt like a plunger on my neck. It was fun though! The next step was to sit on the elephant which was the scariest part. The procedure of climbing on an elephant was not hard in theory . . . The elephant “kneels” so you use one of his leg as a step then you grab him by the ear and pull yourself up as you were trying to climb on a horse, although the elephant is a lot bigger…wider… and… ouch! you find yourself not on top but underneath it. (I felt cruel having to step on the elephant or having to pull his ear but the people who take care of them assured us they have a very very thick skin and apparently don’t feel little human like me trying to climb up).
I had to wear special cotton trousers in order to protect my skin from bugs, the hair which felt like needles and the very thick, rough skin.
I found myself sitting on the giant not having anything to hold on to but the ears or 10 single elephant’s hair. I had to wear special cotton trousers in order to protect my skin from bugs, the hair which felt like needles and the very thick, rough skin.
Sitting high up on his neck I was afraid to move, it was very high up and I would rather be on top than underneath it so I stayed calm then I was given a bunch of bananas and was told to give the orders to the animal. I screamed the word kicked him lightly and the elephant moved a bit, I was scared… I said “good boy” and gave him a banana. All of the sudden the elephant got bored and he was trying to reach for more food with its trunk. Sitting on him I had the huge trunk with two big breathing holes wiggling and travelling straight into my face, trying to balance myself and not hesitating long I placed a banana on it, I was impressed how he just grabbed it like he had a hand in there.
The elephant run straight under a little wooden construction with a roof made of some dried leaves and wooden sticks. If the guy didn’t jump of the elephant in time, he would have become a part of the roof…
Next step was to make the elephant reverse and walk around a bit. I gave the reverse order and off we go.
I was very scared that the elephant would go crazy and start running into the jungle with me on top then I remembered the golden rule of not letting the animal feel your fear. I again kept myself calm and imagined Im sitting on a well behaved horse that I am in charge of and he just needs to listen to me. The elephant walked very slowly and carefully taking step by step as if it was walking on a mine field. All of the sudden I hear noise and people screaming I turned around to see a huge elephant running for his life towards the group of people and a Thai person sitting on top. The elephant run straight under a little wooden construction with a roof made of some dried leaves and wooden sticks. If the guy didn’t jump of the elephant in time, he would have become a part of the roof…Fortunately he was alright but the rest did not feel like riding an elephant anymore. I was still on mine and having my imagination triggered by the incident, I was no longer sitting alone on the elephant, behind me there was panic screaming into my ear “get off that freaking elephant before you end up on a roof or a tree” I had all sorts of scenarios of what could possibly go wrong… I rode my elephant back to the starting point and quickly disembarked.
Again I started having trust issues: what If the elephant steps on my foot? Or drags me underneath the water and I drown…
We took our elephants down to the river and by seeing how happy they were being in water I quickly forgot about all the fear again. They were diving under the water with the trunk sticking out above the water surface like a periscope, rolling around and spraying one another with water. They seemed like they are enjoying themselves very much. I Got a brush and a bucket and swam towards the elephant to finally make my dream come true.
I was so happy and excited and rapidly filled my bucket with water and poured it onto the animal and begun the bath, it seemed like he was enjoying the scrub behind his ears so I moved in front of him in order to scrub his trunk, he lifted it up towards me like he was trying to shake my hand, I left the brush and a bucket and put my hands up waiting for the contact, we finalised the hand/trunk shake it was very exciting and a happy moment to feel this huge, strong and hairy piece of muscles that could easily lift me up, I again looked into the nostrils like into devils eyes although they were discharging some water or other liquids as the elephant kept breathing. But that was not the most disgusting thing at all…As I stood in the water something drifted to me and poked me on the back I turned around to see and found myself surrounded by the elephants excrement…I swear they were the size of a football floating everywhere. Again I started having trust issues “what If the elephant steps on my foot” or drags me underneath the water and I drown. But that disappeared quickly as I carried on washing this amazing animal, I can’t tell who had more fun me or the elephant.
As I posed for a photo with the elephant in the background, I got an unexpected shower from my fellow elephant who has returned the favour of showering. Who knows maybe he understood how disgusted I was by swimming in his poo and tried to wash it off me.
Despise the circumstances it was so worth it and I had a lot of fun making my dream come true! It was one of the best things I have done and definitely recommend it!