Elephants are very large. Even so, it took two elephants to carry my ginormous family. Bart, Shay and Ainsley took the first elephant. Aidan, Kyra and I then climbed the platform to board the second, an 18-year-old gal named Pinky.
An elephant is bigger than a minivan, but less comfortable. I sat in the middle of a bench that was strapped to the elephant’s back, with Kyra and Aidan on either side of me. The bench bounced with every plodding step, sending me crashing backwards into the metal seatback.
About five minutes into the ride, the elephant driver hopped off to take a picture with our camera. Then he ran ahead to take pictures of Bart’s elephant and another elephant, ridden by our friends Scott and Sonia. Meanwhile, Pinky kept walking, without a driver… right toward a steep, narrow hill.
Keep in mind that I’ve never ridden an elephant before. So I’m perched up here with a guide who has abandoned his post, wondering if my elephant knows how to get down the hill by herself. She did, but if you look closely at the photos, you’ll see that I’m replaying in my mind’s eye those grainy videos you sometimes see on the evening news, titled something like “Elephant Goes Berserk, Attacks Crowd in Toledo!”
The guide eventually climbed back up, and we tried to converse, but his English wasn’t much better than my Thai. He pointed out various sites along the way: a temple (I think), an elephant graveyard (I think), his house (I think…). Then the elephants all pulled over to the side of the road and the drivers produced small boxes of overpriced elephant necklaces. I said no, but Bart said yes (always the sucker), so then I had to say yes, too. We paid about 30USD for three little necklaces for the kids. I consoled myself with the thought that perhaps Pinky would get an extra scoop of elephant chow that night thanks to our infusion of cash.
The biggest hit of the journey? Well, when my kids are along for the ride, you can probably guess: elephant elimination. That’s right. We discovered that elephant poop is about the size of a bowling ball, and when an elephant needs to pee, it’ll create a small lake. Trust me when I tell you this is almost as funny as monkey sex (oh, I can already see the google hits I’m going to get off of this one…).
Toward the end of the ride, Shay climbed up front with his driver. Than the driver jumped off, leaving Shay alone on the elephant’s neck for awhile. He seemed to handle his time alone steering the elephant better than I.
On the way home, I asked Aidan if he remembered the elephant’s name. “Pinky,” he answered. “I’m always going to remember her name was Pinky, even when we’re back in Bangkok.”