A jumbo day
15.01.2017 - 05.01.2017 28 °C
Our last day in Laos started with a trip to the elephant sanctuary. We were given the chance to ride on the elephants bare neck. Christine took a few seconds to decide that it wasn't for her and so it was down to me to keep the side up for Britain.
Sitting on an elephants neck and balancing yourself by placing your hands on the top of their head all seems quite easy. Gripping with your thighs it can't surely be that different to riding a horse? Hmmmm....elephants it turns out have a very funny gait, quite uneven and at times erratic. Having ploded along for 100 yds the mahmout who was sitting behind me asked if I would lke to go i the river. In for a penny in for a soaking, so I accepted his kind offer. Now elephants are clever but they are also obstinate creatures. If an elephant doesn't wish to go in the direction that you want, then there is little you can do. My elephant clearly did not want to go down to the river but after 10 minutes of the mahout pleading, urging and heel digging, we lumbered in. My immediate concern was that the water would come up and cover my shoes but we stayed dry. The elephant waded across the river to a sand bank in the middle, at which point the mahout asked for my camera and jumped off. The next 15 minutes were spent with the elephant wandering across the sandbank and the mahout walking alongside taking photos.
The elephant was obviously used to this and lumbered on casually across the sand bank until we entered the water again, whereupon the mahout jumped back on and we returned to shore.
Arriving back at the sanctuary I found that our guide had arranged for us to go upriver to an elephant sanctuary that had seats on the elephants. We arrived and hopped on. Christine and I were getting a bit of the old Raj feeling when the elephant driver jumped off and asked me to sit on the elephants neck while he wandered around taking a few oictures and generally relaxing.
So it appears that in the space of a morning I have gone from elephant novice to apprentice mahout. Not such a bad idea for a career change as it happens.....
After lunch it was all hands to the deck as we headed off to get airport for our next destination- Hanoi.