February 22, 2019
One of the top activities to do in Thailand is to walk with elephants. Often times, tourists think they should ride the elephants. However, tourist agencies commonly tell tourists to book with a company that allows you to only walk, feed, and bathe the elephants. Riding elephants bareback is not actually physically harmful to the animals as we are quite light for them. However, when companies have riding options, it usually involves a large wooden saddle seat that is quite heavy. They also try to maximize the number of rides possible on the elephant, so companies will often churn out as many rides possible without feeding the elephants in between. I ended up choosing a tour that allowed us to feed and watch the elephants as they interacted with one another and then bathe with the elephants in a small pond. This ended up being one of my favorite activities in Chiang Mai and Thailand in general.
We met the elephants (including the cutest little baby elephant ever!!) and fed them tiny bananas. I had to be careful to hide some of the bananas because the elephants could take the whole bunch quite forcefully from you. It was amazing to see how strong the grip and the reach of their trunks were. Then we walked with the elephants in the jungle and they hugged us with their trunks. The last part of the excursion was to give the elephants a physical examination and to bathe them. I never thought I would be able to see these large animals lie down in the water and walk down steep hills right in front of me. I will never forget the mama elephant playfully bathing with the baby elephant and cuddling him in the pond. Getting the chance to spend the day with these rescued elephants was a unique experience that I’ll never forget.