After 1 hour of travelling together with the onions, tomatoes and pineapple at the back of the van, we headed out of Chiang Mai and deeper into the Jungle to experience our weekend of Elephant caring and activities. Nat was feeling a little sensitive as she had befriended the toilet seat the night before (not a happy bunny!).
We met our Guide, Puza and jumped back in the back of the van to head to our drop off point for the start of our trek. We were with 2 German girls who worked for Trivago. Very friendly and a good laugh! Slopes, hills, rivers, slippery rocks, balancing planks of wood/ bamboo as a bridge and near collapsing terrain, you name it, our trek had it all, but the key thing was being confident in the Guide!
And he was good. Puza showed us all of the jungles secrets! Whilst Sophie was afraid of slipping and falling the 3 metre drop, Nat was huffing and puffing as she didn't have much energy (but she gaged an empty stomach was best!). We got to the waterfall, our aim, but given we are in Monsoon season, the amount of water gushing down was too intense for us to jump in!
On our descent we then joined another group and headed for rafting..
At the end of the day, we returned to camp, were shown to our cabin and spent overnight there. A great opportunity to speak with the whiskey inebriated thai guides and exchange communicative glances and gestures with the Mahout, who are the people who take care of the elephants. One Mahout per elephant.
7.30 am next morning I (Nat) got up and experienced my first 'tete a tete' with a cockroach! The little fella was on it s back, legs in the air, so I thought... obvious, .... he's dead! Well! Never assume! me being nosy, I just touched him with my flip flop, well the ninja performed a amazing self flip on his legs whilst releasing some kind of white defensive slime, or he maybe he just sneezed at he same time.. I'm not sure! But to my surprise he let out the same kind of 'hiss' as a cat does when it's annoyed! No need to say, I swiftly moved on :).
We had breakfast, changed into our Uniform and set off with 10kgs of mini bananas in our basket to distribute to and fed the elephants, which are vegetarian animals! Puza had explained that elephants are somehow like humans, in the way that some are chilled, some are funny and others cheeky! And somehow NOT like humans as an mother caries her baby in her womb for 22 months, an elephant drinks 80 litres a day and pees 40 litres a day!
Next session, learning to mount an elephant on their bare back. Nat couldn't wait and was the first to volunteer...sounds like a deja vu with an ostrich no??... Soph still had a glance of fear in her eyes for a few seconds, but once she got the elephant to kneel, instructing him "nowloon, nowloon", got on top, she was loving it :). She was instructing him to 'Pail' (advance), 'kwe' (turn) and 'how'(stop)!
Lunch break was rice, chicken vegetables and of course pineapple! Of course pineapple!
The afternoon session consisted of a trip with the elephants and the Mahout of course. I can still, now hear in my head 'Pail, Pail, Pail', the instruction that the Californian, 70 yrs old version of Ms Doubtfire, 'Terry' was repeating to her baby elephant for him to advance! She had chosen a little one, even though the Mahout had warned her that he was more fidgety and cheeky, but she was just stubborn and stayed with her choice! Well I said it defo was a good one as it provided us with a great deal of free entertainment! The elephant was eating all he could find on its way, slipping up and down muddy slopes, picking up food with his trunk and drinking from ditches and you would occasionally hear her tone of voice with 'Pail or Kwe' shoot up as a big hint to say to the Mahout 'Hey mate look at what's happening here! Do something!' Unlucky for her he seemed to be the most chilled Mahout in the world! When Sophie jumped off the elephant, she felt for a moment like she was a cowgirl as her inner thighs were aching so much! I must admit my legs were wrapped round the elephant s neck as I was the driver...sophie's legs were wrapped around the elephant's body as she was my passenger!
We then moved on to bathing our companions. Sum that up by walking in murky, muddy water full of elephant poo, pee and scrubbing the elephant. Guess what! I was happy like a pig in mud but it was not long before Soph realised the situation in which she was and quickly retreated to the ground, away from poo and pee!
All in all, it was an amazing weekend spent in the jungle with the elephants. We returned to our 'Green Tulip' hostel in Chiang Mai and went to the Sunday Market, the longest market We had both ever been to!
Last day in Chiang Mai we decided to go for some more adrenaline ! Ziplining over the rice terraces and across the jungle !! Great fun :-)