AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Annemarie really wanted to go and spend a day with elephants, but many of the elephant touristy stuff in Thailand seems to be quite exploitative. The elephants are made to carry people for long periods of time in baskets on their backs. Woody’s Elephant Training was different because he doesn’t use the basket; the basket isn’t good for the elephant because it can easily be overloaded and force the elephant to carry too much weight. He runs a sanctuary for elephants so they don’t have to work (except a bit of time carrying us around his sanctuary). Our first task was to climb up onto the elephant and get used to sitting there. The command Yo Kar makes the elephant lift its front leg, you then use the leg as a step, along with the ear and a bit of flab for handles and climb up onto the elephants neck. Demonstrated here by me: Watch this video on YouTube Once we had all practised climbing on the elephant we then had to learn how to control the elephant. We had to make it go left sigh and right kwar, also stop YURT! Watch this video on YouTube We then had the fun task of cleaning up elephant poo. Lucky us! But that only took a few minutes. After lunch we went for a short trek with our elephants, two to an elephant. I was up front controlling the elephant with Annemarie sitting on the back. It was well trained because it did everything I told it to do. Riding an elephant isn’t too difficult if they are going slow but when it lowered its head to eat I fell forwards which was quite worrying and felt like I was going to fall off. We walked for about 15 minutes then stopped to give the elephants a break (and a treat) and also for us to rest and gripping with our legs is actually quite tiring. We then rode maybe another 10 minutes back to a river and lake. Most people then got in the water and swam and scrubbed and played with the elephants. After the elephants had been brushed everyone could sit on the back of the elephant while it swam around the lake. It was a really good day and we learnt something about elephants. Woody really cares about the elephants, to him they are family and he treats them as such. He says he does his best to keep the elephants safe and happy and considering that work for them consists of less than 30 minutes carry people and standing for photos they seem to have...

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