Sunday, 30 December 2012

Elephant Riding

You have not been to Thailand if you have not ride on an elephant. Elephant riding was such an eye-opener for me. Never thought this massive and thick-skinned mammal is actually a gentle and kind-hearted beast. I had a chance to ride on Mr. Bow an 18 year-old-ish elephant at one of the elephant camps in Phuket. It was 25 mins ride on tuk-tuk from Patong Beach where I was staying.

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I paid 350 baht for a 30-min experience of elephant trekking; exploring the wilderness of Phuket's flora and appreciating the sea view from the top of high hill. It was a breath-taking moment and Mr. Bow had been such a great host and company. You can pay extra 200 baht for a photo with the elephant but bear in mind the photo quality is quite bad.
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What hit me emotionally was seeing the trainer actually torturing the elephant to get it to obey him. He had this long equipment with a bended sharp-end that he kept to himself during the journey. Whenever the elephant refuses his order, he will jab the sharp thingy on elephant's skin or even pull the elephant's eyelids with it. It was such a bizarre and horrendous feeling to actually see it in front of you while you can't say anything to stop him from doing it.

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I pity those elephants which are purposely trained for commercial and tourism values. No wonder why elephants always tramp on people long time ago because they were sick of these kind of treatment. Maybe it was a myth, who knows.

I found an article about the cruelty on elephant trading issue here.

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Initially I found the idea of elephant trekking was one of my highlights during my Thailand's journey but paying the fees to see that kind of abusive treatment on elephants had had me regretted my enthusiasm. It felt like I was supporting this cruelty and I shouldn't have done that. Sorry Mr. Bow. I hope this entry can open up people's mind on the reality of animal trading for tourism.

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Asyraaf Kadir