Saturday, January 16, 2010

Elephants: Nature's 78th Wonder of the World.


So today we saw elephants. Lots of elephants. We got to ride on elephants. Fun was had by all. Especially the elephants.

We began the day by getting up and having some breakfast at the resort's restaurant. Much like all the other times that we have eaten there, the place was deserted. This was somewat disconcerting as the resort is quite full, and the breakfast is free. I guess that we just come at weird times for breakfast or something.

After breakfast, we went to the elephant camp to go for a ride on an elephant. It was a 45 minute trek through the jungle on one of Phuket's mountains. To say that the views were amazing would be an understatement. Combine that with the fact that we were on a FREAKING ELEPHANT, and it was a pretty awesome experience.

From Thailand Shenanigans

Our elephant's name was Oanwaan (Pronounced the same as "Ouendan", except swap the "d" for a "w"). She was born in 1967 and came from the Mae Hong Son region. She was awesome. Her Mahaout (rider) was also pretty cool. Although he spoke very little English, he did manage to get across his point, and he showed us things like rubber trees and other native vegetation.

After our trek, we went and saw a baby elephant show, which had three young elephants who had been trained to perform various tricks. It wasn't anything circus-grade, and most importantly, the animals were treated very well and no cruelty was involved. The elephants did various activities like soccer, painting and, my favourite, playing the harmonica. Hearing an elephant belt out a full chord on a harmonica is something everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. Preferrably twice.

We also got to feed the elephants various fruits and vegetables for a small fee. The experience was interesting. It's as if the elephant's trunk has a mind of its own, and the nose itself is quite slimy. But still, it isn't every day you get to feed an elephant, so it was pretty cool. And how does it feel to touch an elephant? They feel like a really old leather couch in desperate need of a polish with very spiky hair. Interesting, to say the least.

From Thailand Shenanigans

From Thailand Shenanigans

We came back to the restaurant for some lunch. Once again, the place was completely empty. There was like eight staff watching us at all times. The good side to this is is that it doesn't take much to get their attention. The bad side is is that they're like seagulls wanting food - they're constantly milling around your table, eager to take your plate away the moment you've finished. I sware I heard squawking. Emma compared it to the "Harvey Norman" of restaurants. Both descriptions are equally as apt.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around the pool and drinking cocktails at the bar. Their "Happy Hour" runs for like half the day, so good times were had by all. Emma and I played about seven hundred games of dominoes, and I think she won by maybe two games.

For dinner, we went out to... some... restaurant... somewhere... In all honesty, after wading our way through the touts and whatnot, I was in a very bad mood. This was mainly due to the fact that there was no authentic Thai food to be found anywhere - only really bad european food. I ended up having a Margherita pizza, which was barely edible. Emma had a "vegetable" pizza, which was inedible. We paid the bill and left without tipping in any way.

On the way to and from the "restaurant", we counted how many touts tried to stop and talk to us. We counted thirty-four. This was a 300 meter walk. That means that there was one person every 10 metres trying to get us to buy something. The worst thing is is that we are staying at Kata Beach, one of the quieter beaches!

I really think that Phuket has been spoiled. The locals (if there *are* any locals) have become so accustomed to pleasing tourists that they have completely abandoned their way of life. Add to this all of the touts trying to sell you stuff (or themselves... every alley is filled with prostitutes), and even the prettiest of beaches becomes very undesirable.

So now Emma is having... some sort of... noodle... thing from 7/11. It's name is affectionately referred to by us as "squiggle-squiggle-line-squiggle" (because we're terribly white and can't read Thai). She can't taste anything anymore. Interestingly, the directions were titled "Direction", and then EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE PACKET was written in Thai. It's as if the noodles were spiting us for being white. As in, they were letting us know where the instructions *were*, but not what they *are*.

She also tried one called "Jok Cup", and the name is somewhat appropriate. It smells just about as bad, and it has turned into an almost solid blob of rice noodles and porridge. I think it is bound for the bin soon... or maybe the toilet...

From Thailand Shenanigans

If you'd like to see more photos of our trip so far, head on over to:

Everything up until this blog post is there.

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