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Riding An Elephant

By Yvonne Eber

The average person would believe that riding an elephant would be a walk in the park experience. But no, that is not how it is. Don’t get me wrong, riding an elephant is a very fun way to take a walk down the road and back but I would not advise you to take more than a fifteen minute ride on one, since you will soon find the flaws in riding an elephant. I can tell you, when I climbed up on the ten foot high Asian elephant’s back in the botanic gardens of Pattaya, Thailand the ride was anything but romantic.

First of all, if you think the seat is covered with pillows, blankets and an awning from the sun (like they show in books and movies), you will have thought incorrectly. The actual seat has a hard metal frame with a board for the bottom and about a half an inch hard foam padding.

Secondly if you think the conductor will be wearing gold buckle up shoes and a red cape you will be wrong again. The conductor wears his normal daily wear which most of the time consists of a dirty t-shirt and ripped jeans.

Thirdly if you expect the elephants walk to be a slow calm and undisturbing walk then you will be wrong for the third time. An elephant’s walk is a very disturbing up and down side to side movement .When you are forced to hold the back bar for fear of falling off it doesn’t help that the conductor (who sits at the top of the elephant’s neck) starts to chuckle about how weird tourists are. “They’re scared of riding ten foot elephants.”

Fourthly and lastly if you expect the photographer to wait for you to pose and smile you will be wrong again .The photographer jumps around you and the elephant while the elephant is still walking, and takes about 20 photos while you are hanging on the back bar for your life and barely thinking about photos. Then when you finish the ride and the photographer barrages you to buy some photos he took of you. You are more than horrified at what he shows you.

I now have a horrific picture of me basically falling off an elephant to prove what an Asian elephant ride is like. But if you don’t believe me then go ahead and try.

Last Updated: February 3, 2004

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