On my month-long trip this past February, I went to this Thai Elephant Conservation Centre outside of Lampang, Thailand by about an hour’s drive.
As soon as you arrive, it’s as if you’ve been transported to another world. Elephants of all shapes, ages, sizes and colouring are wandering around. There’s even an elephant hospital.
Of course, in order to make money to support their work, they have to cater to the tourists so the first thing you see is the elephants being washed in the big lake and at the end of what started as just a daily washing and cool down becomes an all out water fight between the elephants and the trainers.
After that you get to ride the elephants which requires you to access their backs from a two-story bamboo structure that allows you to climb straight into the basket positioned on their back.
It’s a little bit scary at first when you head straight down into the lake, a trainer at the front to make sure the elephant behaves. Natalie, who I was with, wasn’t paying attention and literally almost fell out of the basket when it was headed down into the lake.
The elephant lopes side to side and the basket moves to and fro and it doesn’t take long to get in the groove of its movement the way you would when you’re a passenger on a motorbike, learning to go with the flow, lean, no resisting.
It’s a beautiful place and as we entered I noticed that you could actually stay at a nearby Giraffe resort if you were intent on spending a lot longer with the elephants than just a few hours.
As fall arrives, my mind is wandering back to warmer climes. And it hasn’t even started raining yet here in the rain forest uh oh!