18th December 2015 ~ I booked for a place in the tour group the night before, and it was actually quite late at that time. I chose ELEPHANT TRAINING because I wanted a half-day package and I thought for this tour, I would just have to sit back and watch the local people train the elephant.
So I was there in the tuk tuk/taxi with other eight foreigners and the journey from Chiang Mai city took about 1½ hours. We chatted along the way and these people had actually traveled around the world all their lives.
When we arrived at the camp (called Kaengkued Camp), two people who had chosen ELEPHANT TRAINING had to get off the taxi, a British man and I. Immediately we were given a pair of shirt and pants, and we were told that we had to change as we would get wet later. Then only I realized that I HAD CHOSEN THE WRONG PACKAGE and it was already too late to run back to the city. Instead of watching, I was the one who actually had to train the elephants. Left with no choice, I obediently got into my new attire and then we were given a briefing by our tour guide, Miss Teab, who could speak good and clear English, about the elephants and their lives, as well as the short commands that we had to give to the elephants to manoeuvre the animal around.
After that, the training started. We were first introduced to the two baby elephants that we would ride on, by petting and feeding them with bananas. Then we got an elephant each and tried to use all the command in Thai to make it squat, stand, move forward, turn right and left and stop. Of course I could not remember them all, but the guides and other trainers were always by my side to give assistance. It was not an easy task to be on the back of the elephant. I had to balance myself, spread my legs, hold on to the rope around the elephant's neck and feed it with bananas and sugar cane from time to time.
I already had the experience riding an elephant when I was in Krabi but at that time I just had to sit in the "basket" on the back of the beast and there was another "mahoot" (the elephant trainer) "driving" it. This time, I was the master and I could not imagine what would happen if suddenly the elephant decided to run amok or disobeyed the trainers.
The journey seemed so long and my ass got sore from the riding activity. I even overheard my new friend yelling "Oh I have bony ass." I guess we should have done some sort of stretching activities before carrying this elephant-riding thing.
The final part of the package was to bathe the elephant in the river. The water was cold but the elephants were having a good time being bathed by people. Both the animals and the human beings seemed to enjoy this session very much.
someone accidentally recorded a video :)
All in all, it was definitely a new experience for me, despite the bumpy ride, literally, earlier. I hope that I had been able to provide some tender loving care for the elephants in the camp and my presence would have contributed to the well-being and charity of the elephants.
If you are going to visit the elephant camp in Chiang Mai, why don't you try the ELEPHANT TRAINING package and I would recommend Miss Teab as the guide as she is very proficient in English. You can contact her at the number below and you could also search for "kangkuedcamponline" on Facebook.