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Koh Samui, Thailand..tiny bananas, tiny elephants and the mothers who love them (Part Three)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

After our waterfall experience, we began our journey further around the island. As our faulty-engined truck puttered along quickly, we watched as the scenery passed by. The sky was still grey and overcast with storm clouds. After a short while of driving, we pulled off the small island two-lane road and headed up into the mountains again. The road there was a bit more sturdy than the last one, with the same palm trees and greenery surrounding us.

Koh Samui, Thailand

After a short while up the steep hill, we pulled into an area where there were large and small elephants  looming everywhere. My understanding is that we were headed for another waterfall, but we pulled into the small parking lot. As we got out, a few employees walked over to us and offered a ride to the waterfall, and elephant ride or a Zip line ride down from the mountain. Sounds interesting to me, so we inquired more. Well, the Zip line was $50 U.S. dollars. thanks. Going to see the large waterfall was extra also, along with a $20 fee for riding an elephant.

Elephant on Koh Samui, Thailand

One of our group mates decided to head up to the Zip Line, so he left with the guide. I became mesmerized with the elephants and wanted to photograph and pet them (as much as one can actually pet an elephant). I still felt guilty about riding them, so I passed on doing that. The elephants looked kind of sad to me and I am too much of an animal lover not to notice.

Elephant on Koh Samui, Thailand

I watched a bit as elephant trainers helped passengers onto the elephants from the high platform designed to allowed people to walk up and step out onto the back of the elephant where the chair was. I suppose this made it easier for everyone.

A short video clip of the elephants on Koh Samui, Thailand

This was just a simple video clip. I didn't do much video on this trip, just a few seconds here and there to help people get a sense of what it's like in these places. It was mainly about photography for me.

Elephant Trainer on Koh Samui, Thailand

Since I decided not to ride one of these beautiful creatures, I thought it might be fun to feed one or two. There was a table where you could buy a bunch bananas (really tiny ones) for about 25 cents (U.S.). It was hard finding some that were ripe enough to feed them, so grabbed what I could.

Elephant and Trainer on Koh Samui, Thailand

I ran over to the baby one first. I decided to share my bananas with someone standing by, and take a photo while someone else was feeding him first. Once I started feeding him, I couldn't believe how fast he (or she) grabbed them out of my hands. I peeled off one at a time and the baby elephant instantly wrapped them in the trunk and engulfed. I went through a bunch of bananas rather quickly, save one.

Baby Elephant on Koh Samui, Thailand

Within moments, a very large, huge, elephant (mother) came over to me in that enhanced cinema slow-motion style and I began to get a little nervous. I reached out and handed a tiny banana to this monster- sized beauty as she grabbed it quickly. Mother elephant stared me right in the eyes without waiver and kept walking straight towards me. I couldn't tell if she was trying to push me away from baby and getting a banana in the process, or if she had figured out that walking over a visitor would produce bananas faster. As I was out of bananas now, I had to run to the table and buy another bunch quickly.

Elephant Trainer on Koh Samui, Thailand

I feed her over and over again as she pushed me back and down the hill. One banana, two banana, three banana...four. Finally as I started to make noise (let's just stick with that), a trainer came over to stop her. I'm sure they thought that was just hysterical (considering the amount of laughing they did). Although I didn't want to get stepped on, I loved feeding her, such an amazing opportunity. Elephants have such a tight grip with their trunks, so I had to pull away hand, quickly. I was hoping that she wasn't going to decide "to hell with the bananas" and have California boy for lunch. There is a hairy, dirty and rough texture to them that feels quick strange. It's nothing like petting a kitten.

Elephant on Koh Samui, Thailand

It is amazing how much intelligence is in the eyes of an elephant. Like I said, I felt sorry for them though since they were kind of trapped, having to do this day in and day out.

Elephant Trainer on Koh Samui, Thailand

The elephant trainers were an interesting mix of people, but friendly. I saw this guy sitting on one of the elephants and having a break. Not sure exactly what he was smoking, but it makes for an interesting photo.

Elephant Trainer on Koh Samui, Thailand

It was curious seeing the different colors and patterns on the elephants. It was amazing to get this chance to spend some time with these animals. Typically, most people only get to see elephants at the zoo, behind a fence. It is an entirely different experience to be able to walk up to them and to be surrounded by them. You never really realize how massive they are and how much of a presence they have until you are in this situation.

Elephant on Koh Samui, Thailand

To Be Continued....


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