lolamatopoeia: (dancey pants)
[personal profile] lolamatopoeia
It was a crazy day full of new experiences. I've come to the conclusion that no pictures or video could truly capture my experience here. I had some assistance coming to this conclusion today after my camera ran out of batteries at the first stop of the day.

Tony, our guide, picked us up at 8:30AM and we were driven in the back of a truck with a group of people from Denmark, Sweden, and a writer from Canada and his friend, a Thai pilot. Our first stop was an orchid farm. This place was somewhat similar to a butterfly conservation area in Ontario but much more serene and a thousand times more beautiful. I took a few pictures and then my battery ran out. Believe me, though, it was beautiful.

After the orchid farm we were driven quite a way into the mountains to ride elephants in the rainforest/jungle. We drove through several villages with people pushing their carts and pulling along water buffalo and then - elephants! The first time we wizzed by by the backside of one walking along the roadside my jaw must have dropped to the floor of the truck. An amazing sight.

The elephant ride itself though, I am still feeling conflicted about. There were a group of elephants rounded up to a platform and we were hurriedly led to the platform and plopped, two at a time, atop an elephant and sent off. There was no introduction or connection made. I didn't even get to see the elephant's face until we bought a picture of us riding it at the end for 100 baht. All that I wanted to do was play with and interact with the elephants. Hopefully we'll have another opportunity to do something more touchy feely, and ethical, in Laos. Hopefully. It's not that there was anything particularly wrong with how they were treated - it's just how it's done here, but the way our mahoot kept yelling and the metal jabbing hook at the end of a stick that he used to pull and guide and sometimes hit our elephant with made me very uncomfortable. I was reassured that they have thick skin and they're ok, but I saw blood on one of the elephants ears as I watched her, at eye level on the podium, unload another group of tourists. I pet her head and nearly cried. Her eyes were so sad.

I just want to play with the elephants and care for them and know they're cared for and loved. They are such beautiful and magical creatures. I'm desperately going to seek something we can do on this trip with the elephants that is more about conservation and care rather than entertainment.

In any case, the views we enjoyed on the ride were breathtaking. I've seen so many pictures of Asia with the tree covered misty mountains and the elephants and cows and bison and carts and rice fields and straw hats and colourful linens and all of this iconic beauty I'm seeing, it's hard to believe that I'm actually seeing it now.

After the slightly traumatic elephant ride, we went on a power trek through the rainforest. We trekked and trekked in some of the most lush and gorgeous forest. I was literally soaked and dripping with sweat by the time we made it to our hut for lunch (noodles wrapped in banana leaves). The end of our second leg of trekking brought us to a waterfall. Yeah, a waterfall. We were encouraged to jump right in and jump we all did. It was a great way to refresh from hiking. We just stood under one of the falls and allowed ourselves to be pummeled in the back with the force of the water. There are pictures somewhere and I look bad but hey, I'm in a waterfall!

We next trekked to the launch point for white water rafting. White water rafting was fun and scary in the right combination. The nice Danish girls in front of us kind of ticked me off a little when they would freak out and throw their hands up and stop paddling when we got to the rapids. I felt a little Mom-ish. I've got to stop that.

The next portion - the bamboo rafting - came immediately after the white water rafting bit and was probably the least enjoyable for me. We had been cold and wet for a good two or three hours at this point and they had shoved so many people on our raft that we were submerged a good foot or two into the mirkiness. It's likely just because I'm so OCD about my sensitive lady parts, but all that I kept thinking was "crotch infection, crotch infection" and that I needed to get the f out of my wet suit and into a hot shower. Enough with the bitching though - we bamboo rafted down the river through the mountains and through the reeds and it was one of the most beautiful experiences ever. It was just so goddamn beautiful. I've got to find another word for beautiful. I love Thailand.

Douglas, the writer from Saskatoon that we met on this trip is staying in Thailand to finish his second novel. I've decided that that, or at least something like it, is going to have to be me some day. I think that it would be a pretty excellent goal. I love Asia so far. I can't believe that I was so terrified of this place before I left.
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