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Day 11: Elephant Camp

We entrusted our entertainment activities of the next day entirely to Kitt, a very friendly cab driver we met at the airport. He obviously knew the region well and seemed uninterested in overcharging tourists, which was quite a breath of fresh air. In about an hour we reached Mae Tang Elephant Park, nestled in the mountains north of Chiang Mai.

We played a while with a couple of elephant cows and their babies, petting them and feeding them sugar cane and bananas, before being told in friendly but not uncertain terms that we could not actually do that. So we made our way to the elephant show, a cheesy and hopelessly touristy affair but very enjoyable. I had no idea elephants could be taught that many tricks: for about an hour, we saw them hauling trees, lifting them with their trunks, sit, kneel and roll over as would very large dogs. A huge male was an imposing and gifted soccer player, and another of the pachyderms proved herself a much better painter than I am. They could be smart even when their handlers weren't looking: as we left the show, we saw one of the younglings slip away from its pen, quite stealthily for a 400kg teenager, grab about a metric ton of cabbage that was lying around nearby, and carry it back to its pen where he could devour it lazily while affecting a look of the purest innocence.

Then we rode them, for about forty minutes in and around the rivers and jungles surrounding the camp. It's an horribly cheesy thing to do, and I've turned it down multiple times before, but among friends it is indeed a lot of fun. It is also a great portrait opportunity, because the look one gives when trying to strike a pose while sitting on a violently rocking metallic chair atop a 2-ton barely tame beast is quite unlike what you'd get in any other situation. Phil and I must have a hundred photos between us of each of us photographing the other one.

With a few hours of daylight left, we went on a little trek around the Mae Kompong Waterfall, actually a string of 12 increasingly big waterfalls, where we took many sexy photos in and around the water, as well as downward scary photos of us trying to piss off a banana spider. Eventually we rode back to our hostel for dinner and an early bedtime, except for me, who to my great surprise ended up working alone in the lobby until 3AM.

I had great entertainment. Our hostel was run by a thai women and her french husband, who seemed only interested in watching b-series science fiction while drinking beer and red bull all day and night long. This caused me quite a fright on the first night, as I woke up with a start around 2 to hysterical screams of "What? Who are you? What are you doing? Help! HELP! I'm being murdered! HELP!" and sat in bed for a few seconds wondering what to do — my room was overlooking the street, and while violent crime is very rare in Chiang Mai, you never know — before hearing a reassuring hail of obviously televised machine-gun fire. On this particular evening, I had the pleasure of editing photos against the background of Skyline, a recent alien invasion flick with surprisingly good visual effects for its low budget but seemingly no plot whatsoever — although, to be fair, I wasn't paying much attention.

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  • Response
    LOL, is this drawing made by an elephant? It is hard to believe on this fact. How an animal can draw things like his own face? The experience of your camping is looking so much funny. And the video at the end is really good.

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