Friday, November 19, 2010

Elephants and Monkeys and Buffaloes..Oh My!

So the one thing I REALLY wanted to do while in Thailand was ride an elephant. Brett rode one on a work trip he went on a few months earlier, and said it was just very bumpy. I said I didn't care- I wanted to do it. So, we set it up with the hotel and they asured us it would be fine to take Mallory. We opted for the all day package, where you ride and elephant, they show you a few things about Thailand and go on a sunset boat ride. The day came, and we were off. I was so excited! The Siam Safari sent a representative to come to our hotel and pick us up, and he came in a very pimped out van. We drove about 45 minutes, where we got off the van and onto a little jeep thing, and drove up a hill where we saw...elephants!!!
We were introduced to our tour guide for the day, and she explained to us a few things about the elephants. Here she's showing us the "hook" they use to guide the elephants. They hold it upside down and the hook goes behind their ear to get them to turn or move.
Mallory fell asleep on the ride up, and was still asleep as we waited to get on the elephant.
Climbing on...There was a "seat" tied to the elephant's back. It was a bit wobbly, but I was still so excited.
Our view from on top of the elephant, and our elephant's master.
We were up at the top of a hill, on top of an elephant, so their was a very pretty view down to the ocean.
A lot of Thai people are Buddhist, just like in Japan. They have a "big Bhudda" up on a hill. We didn't go see it, but you could see the head from the hill we were on.
The elephant trainers basically steered the elephants with their feet, behind the elephant's ears.
We were at the back of the pack- here's our view of the other 'phants.
The seat ties around the elephant and under their tail. Doesn't look very comfy if you ask me- kinda like wearing a thong I would think :)
About 1/2 way thru the ride, Mallory woke up. I was a bit afraid she'd freak out being on a big animal, since she hated the horses at Tama (back in July) so much. After looking around for a few minutes, she seemed perfectly content though (phew!!!) and actually seemed to enjoy the ride.
Our family pictures on the elephant (Christmas card?!?)

After our elephant ride, we got to get up close with our elephants and their masters. Mallory and I got to "pet" the trunk of our elephant, Krajeab. It was rough and scratchy, but Mallory seemed to like it.
We took a picture with her afterwards too. Aren't we cute, all 3 of us?
They had signs up about each of the elephants. This was ours. Her name is Krajeab and she is 47 years old. She's lived at Siam Safari for 10 years and had 1 baby.
Our family picture: Brett, Kim, Mallory and Krajeab :) She was so sweet- I woudl have taken her home with us, but she was a bit big for a carry-on!
All the elephants just hung out afterwards so we could pet them and say hello. You could feed them a few vegetables too, which they scarfed up quickly!
Mal and I were standing by them after the ride, and one of the other elephant masters took his elephants ear and wrapped us up in it. It was pretty funny, and Mal and I both laughed.
After the ride, the elephants all went back to where they are kept and got to eat and drink,
while we walked over to where a few of the baby elephants are trained.
3 of the babies at the camp, who did a show for us.
They painted a picture,
but his trainer wasn't sure it was his best work. I think he did great- better than me :)
They also flipped the hats off the trainers heads,
and our tour guide too. Mallory loved the show. She sat on the floor and was mesmerized.
The elephants liked her too- that's the trunk of one of them, coming over to check her out and say hi!!
They also could play soccer

and wanted Brett to play with him!
We posed for another family picture. These guys were smaller than Krajeab, but still too big to take home with us :( Oh well, I'm not sure our income is large enough to cover their food budget anyway!
And they ate some veggies, again eating like they hadn't been fed in forever (which wasn't true- this was a good camp that is highly rated by the government and wildlife societies for it's good care and treatment of it's animals. I refused to go to one that wasn't well kept!)

After the monkey ride and show, they took us over to see another animal that lives at the camp- this little monkey guy. He is trained to get coconuts out of the trees. He sat right down in front of us, and ate a banana.

Then he showed us how he picks coconuts.

He climbed up a rope and got a coconut from a tree too.

After the elephants and the monkey, they brought over a water buffalo. These big ole guys are used a lot for hauling things and manual work. They let us hop on and take a few pics though, so Mallory and I gladly hopped right up.
Then they hooked a cart up to him and we took a ride around. The other nice British couple was like "oh, man, we are going to be in your family picture now". I told them we'd use it as our Christmas card and send them out to all our friends and family- hahaha.
A view from the water buffalo cart ride.
Up close to the big guy.

After the animal shows, it was time for them to show us a few other things about Thailand. A big export of this area is rubber. It is tapped from rubber trees, and there were many growing up in this area. They showed us how they get the rubber. A lady wearing a light on her head (I guess they cut at night too?) and with a knife
carves a line in a diagonal around the trunk of the tree. The rubber seaps out, follows the line, and drips into a little pan below.
They only cut about 1/2 way up the tree and our guide asked us if we knew why. We all thought for a minute, trying to come up with a reason. Then she said, "because we are all Thai, and Thai people are short and can't reach any higher". Hahahaha- being 5' 1" myself- I can relate!
After they collect the rubber sap, it dried into a solid, sorta bouncy consistency. They collect that from the cup and take it over to a press. They roll it thru the press...
and it turns into sheets of rubber. They can then sell the sheets at the market.
She walked around and we all could touch the rubber sheets. Mallory wasn't really to sure what to think about it. (Mom and Dad weren't either, and we promptly wet wiped her hands off after touching it.)

After the rubber making demo, we walked over to where they were making coconut pancakes. They cooked them in a round metal pan that had little holes in it. Batter was poured into each hole, and once cooked, they tasted like thicker version of a pancake and had a coconut flavor. Yum! Mallory loved hers too!

We saw a short Thai cooking demonstration.
They use LOTS of peppers in Thai food. They like spice. Me...not so much.
Mallory was intrigued by the whole thing!

Next we went over to the coconut demonstration. Coconuts are a big product of Thailand and can be used for a variety of purposes (other than just a yummy treat- I LOVE coconut.)
She showed us how they open them.
Then they shave out the inside.
They also showed us how they get coconut oil by cooking the coconut milk. It is used in cooking and also skin care products.

After all the demonstrations and animals, we got on a jeep type vehicle and whizzed down the busy street (without seat belts of course, so I held on to Mallory as tight as I could) towards a marina.
Once we got to the marina parking lot, we got out of the jeep and onto this little tram to go down the walkway, closer to the boats.
Then we were directed to this boat, called a Thai Junk Boat.
We boarded, and it was quite spacious and nice.
They fed us snacks (bananas, watermelon and something that resembled fried pig ears).
Mal had lots of space to crawl around
and explore new places. (Notice the outfit change too- had a bit of a blow out as we boarded the boat).
They fed us a delicious dinner.
Mal visited with all the passengers.
And made friends with the crew too. They LOVED her!
She's walking around with our tour guide from the day.
As the sunset, we had a glass of wine and enjoyed ourselves completely!
Our cute little family on the junk boat, and M's very first boat ride.

Mal and Daddy
The beautiful sunset and a view of the Thailand Big Buddha (at the very top of the hill, right in the middle of the picture).
It was a FABULOUS day, and we made some memories that will last a lifetime. I am still in disbelief that I rode and elephant, a water buffalo and a boat all in one day! Crazy, but so much fun! My favorite day of our whole trip! But hang on, because there is still much more to come on our fun family adventure...

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