November 16th, 2013
So let me track back to yesterday, the day I finally rode an elephant. Ran Tong Elephant Rescue Camp. We got picked up from our hotel, Bann Park Inn at 8am. (First ones, which was unfortunate because we had 6 more stops to make.) We had 12 people in our group. From pick up to drop off at the actual elephant camp was 2 hours. When we got out of the van they had brought out two baby elephants for us to meet and feed, they were incredibly adorable. We started by changing into the tradition Thai clothing they give us and walking up to the so called “stables”.
There we learned the commands and how to ride the elephants. Lauren and I shared an elephant named, Tonga; his name made perfect sense seeing that he was the size of a small island. Tonga was actually the largest elephant in the camp, so Lauren and I felt like we got some special treatment. Our main tour guide was, Adam Smith, (of course that wasn’t his real name, but that’s what he liked to go by.) He was only 16 years old and really knew what he was doing. Trekking through the jungle was slower than I expected. The elephants stop to eat everything, so you’re constantly yelling “Pi”- which means GO. Each elephant also comes with its own trainer who walks beside you the whole time. Ours was really cool, and awesome about taking our cameras and snapping lots of pictures of us during the trek. After the trek we ate an amazing lunch the camp prepared for us and then got time to feed the elephants and take more pictures with them.
We then got back on Tonga and rode down to the river; this is where the bathing took place. This was my favorite experience of the day. Washing this mass of an animal was simply crazy yet somehow relaxing. It was kind of surreal, being so close to something so large with out a stitch of fear. The peace these animals elude is simply indescribable. After a long process of bathing we rode back to our van and said our good byes. We tipped our guide 200 baht. The tour its self cost 2,400 baht, which is about $80 bucks. I can easily say it was worth every penny.