Phuket – I’m Riding an Elephant!

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Thailand seems almost synonymous with elephants. Everywhere I went in Phuket, there were t-shirts with elephants on them, baby elephants to feed, and opportunities to ride elephants. It is their national animal. So, while in Thailand…

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There are several outfits in Phuket that offer half-hour elephant rides just off the road, but I opted for a 3-hour bus ride to an elephant camp in Khao Sok for an hour-long elephant trek through the jungle. What an awesome sight to behold; a caravan of elephants marching through a Thailand jungle. It was definitely a unique experience, but also uncomfortable. The elephant’s gait rocked me in my seat and I got a bruise along my back where the metal rod hit me with every step.

Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am.

Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.

My guide, who rode on the elephant’s head, invited me to ride on the elephant’s neck, but it seemed too precarious to me. I opted to stay in my little metal carriage seat on the elephant’s back as he lumbered along the trail. What’s a little pain when you can experience something like this? It was a “pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this” experience.

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The guides seem very attached to their elephants, and know their individual personalities. At the midway point, they had us get off our elephants on a platform in the jungle where they used buckets of water to wet down the elephants before we turned around and headed back. We meandered through a creek and down the trail before arriving back at the paddock where we’d begun. Here we had the opportunity to feed the elephants fruit and vegetables.  Then the guides lead the elephants away for a more thorough rub down.

The bruise on my back disappeared in a week, but the memories of this experience will last my whole lifetime.

Is riding an elephant on your bucket list?

15 responses to “Phuket – I’m Riding an Elephant!

    • It was different than I imagined, but incredible. At one point, my guide got off and I thought, “this elephant could just go running off into the wild with me on his back,” but of course, he didn’t.
      I hope you get the chance to ride one again.

  1. I remember doing this once as a kid and yes, it was uncomfortable. But I imagine riding an elephant through an actual jungle is much more magical. I’ve always admired them, especially because they operate on a matriarchal society. If only human society could get with the program on that. 😉

  2. Umm, no but I’m pleased you had a good time Julie. When I was 2 I was taken to see some circus elephants marching along the main road – there’s a photo online somewhere recording this, 1955 it was.

  3. Peggy and our grandkids climbed on elephants at the Jackson County fair in Southern Oregon this summer. I took photos. 🙂 On another note, I just the series of blogs on my father-in-law who crashed in a Burma jungle in World War II and walked out. On his last day, he rode an elephant but had to straddle it. Not comfortable at all, he said. –Curt

  4. We’ve been to Thailand so many times, yet still have not had this experience. I always feel a little hesitant that the animals are well cared for, but it sounds like in this case, they were quite loved. Glad you had fun. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Riding A Camel Through the Desert — in North America! | Browsing The Atlas·

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