|We are in Northern Thailand, a little village close to the Burmese border called Pai. The area is surrounded by rivers, rolling hills, and dense jungle filled with hill tribes. These hill tribes live deep in the rain forest, they are migrants with no regard for national borders, many are refugees from Burma and China, while others come from Bhutan and Tibet. Their main source of income is jungle trek tours that bring toursits into their villages, you spend a night there and then ride an elephant and maybe do a rafting trip. Some are more authentic than others , but it is still a great cultural experience. The "Long Neck" hill tribe is one of the more popular, and they get treated like animals in a zoo, pictures included when you buy your ticket at the gate (so we heard). John and I wanted a different experience and rented a motorbike and drove 30km outside of town and set off on foot alone into the bush to visit a few tribes. It is a humbling experience to walk up on a community in the middle of the rain forest, especially when they invite you into their bamboo hut, offer you rice moonshine, sticky rice,or copious amounts of opium they have growing in their backyard. A great way to interact and expereince a different part of Thailand.
I woke up this morning so excited about finally getting up close and personal with some elephants. The expereince was everything i could have wanted and more. Her name was Hot, and she was HUGE! We opted to ride her bare back and bare foot and got climb up her trunk to mount her. We walked through the jungle, as i got to sit on her neck right behind her ears, while John rode her like a horse. Huge ears flapping around, her trunk grabbing huge trees down like toys. She was constantly stuffing leaves and grass into her mouth.
The best part was when we walked down the river to have a good old hose down. One command "bon bon" which means spray the stupid tourist with the water from your trunk. Another one is to lay on your side on top of the tourist and then stand up and throw them off. Gosh, it was a blast. A bit scarey at times as i was pinned under water between mudd and elephant. I have such respect for elephants, not only are they strong, they are really smart. Our guide left his sandels on shore and Hot picked them up with her trunk and handed them to me. Needless to say one of the best mornings I have ever had!