Thailand - minus what Mike already talked about

September 25, 2009 - Fuji, Japan

Ok, its time for me to come to terms with the fact that, with Swiss back home and Mike in Japan, nobody is going to write my blog entries for me. However, as internet is very expensive on Ko Samui I'm going to condense my entire Thailand experience into one entry; I'm also going to gloss over the things that Mike also did because I'm sure nobody wants to hear about them again.

My first two days were spent with Swiss in Bangkok visiting the major sights including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Jim Tompson's house. I can't say that my heart was really in it for most of these because, due to the fact that you HAVE to wear trousers to visit the Grand Palace, I was even hotter than usual on this trip and that's saying something!  On the second day, I also had to pluck up the courage to get my hair cut and was very relieved not to turn out looking like and american GI, which is apparently a very real risk. We stayed in backpacker central on Khao San road, which was quite entertaining but could hardly be described as the real Thailand as tourists outnumber locals by 50:1 atleast.

Following Swiss' departure back to the UK I headed north to Chiang Mai for a couple of Days. One day was spent learning to cook at A-Lot-Of-Thai (after Mike's glowing report I could hardly go anywhere else) which was really good fun although I slightly overdid the curry paste in my Thai Green Curry! The other day was spent learning to be a Mahut, or elephant trainer, and was one of the best experiences of the trip so far.

The day started with an introduction to the elephants we would be riding and the first of many feeding sessions. This was when I had my first run in with 'Jamed Bond' an extremely playful, 100kg, 6-month old who decided it would be fun to push me over a bench! He tried the same trick later with a fence but it turns out that I'm just about heavy enough to push back if I see the attack coming. We then got taught how to get on and off the elephant. There are many different methods but the most fun by far is to stand facing the elephant and then be lifted onto its back by its trunk, I have video evidence to prove that this is possible and also that it is not as graceful as it sounds! We were then taught the basic commands to control the elephant, here's a summary of the important ones:

     Phai = Go, Yood = Stop (very important), Saai = Turn left, Khaw = Turn right, Toyn = Reverse

Of course the effect of each of these commands when I tried them was the same.........nothing. It seems that I have the same raport with elephants as I do with horses, neither animal wanting to listen to a thing I have to say. Given that the elephants have been trained for years to respond to the exact tone of their Mahut's voice this isn't really surprising but is definately inconvinient! In the afternoon we rode our elephants down to the river for a bath which was amazing before taking them on an hour long ride to a mud bath where we all got extremely dirty! Along the way I had a rather terrifying experience when my elephant got scared by something and started growling and trumpetting although the other Mahuts didn't seem too concerned so maybe I souldn't have been either!

After leaving Chiang Mai I headed to Kanchaniburi, where I made a quick visit to the imfamous railway bridge over the River Kwai before visiting the Tiger Temple. The temple started out as a home for orphaned tigers and has grown into a huge tourist attraction where you can have you photo taken up close with the tigers. On the one hand its really cool to be so close to such an amazing animal, but on the other you have to wonder why the tigers don't try to rip your head off. There are rumours that the tigers are drugged to keep them docile but I have absolutely no idea.

I'm now relaxing on the island of Ko Samui, which is quite peaceful if you get away from the heavily touristed east coast. I spent the first day reading 'The Beach', rather appropriately, which it turns out is set on an island in the marine national park off the coast of Ko Samui. The next day I visited the marine park which is incredibly beautiful although I didn't see a hidden beach filled with backpackers.

 I'm heading back to Bangkok tomorrow to replace half of my clothes that have become too disgusting to wear before flying to Australia to meet up mith Mike again.

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Jo Leppard:
September 25, 2009
So no career for you as a Mahut then? It sounds like you had a really fun day though and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the video!
Jenny Leppard:
October 4, 2009
sup bro! elephant riding sounds pretty ace! cant wait to see the vid! keep up the good work with the blogging :) xxx
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