Waking up at 4am we leave as soon as we are ready for our taxi to the bus station, a 3 hour bus ride finishing with a 40 minute ride in the back of a safari truck to Elephant World. Getting off the bus in Kanchànaburi we buy our first street food in Thailand, breakfast for 20 baht, or about $0.60.
They carried sometimes whole families, but my favorite was the dad and his 2 year old, in his pajamas, holding on the the handle bar with one hand while drinking from his bottle with the other. He was sitting in front of the seat and his feet were stretched out in front of him on the fairing. Dad was driving with one hand and holding a small bad of groceries with the other. The many vendors also used them for work with watched sidecar rigs..
Elephant World is a rescue/sanctuary for old and abused elephants from either the logging of tourism industry. While in Thailand there are many elephant camps that give rides to tourists in basket benches on the back of elephants. It looms like a great time but three back of an elephant can only support about 100 kgs before damaging the spine, the baskets weigh 50 kgs empty, so you see how easily they can be overloaded by two grown adults taking a ride on one.
After the morning feeding we walked with the down to the water before turning them loose in the jungle for a couple hours.
Back at camp a nutritious snack had to be prepared starting with boiling sticky rice, stirring in cut vegetables and cooling the rice.
After a lunch prepared for us by the volunteers,
it was time to wash and prepare the watermelons and bananas for the afternoon feeding. Its amazing how much food this group of elephants can eat in a day.
The cooled sticky rice had to be blended with water and crushed vitamin pellets into a pasty consistency and then rolled into softball-sized balls to be hand-fed into the elephants mouths.
Next on the schedule was the fun part, bath time. Following them down to the water and up on their necks to scrub them down.
My elephant was named Kammoon, a 65 year old female that was rescued from the trekking industry with a compressed spinal cord and severely underfed. Her gentle way and soft brown eyes tells you she is happy now. Sitting on her neck with my toes under her ears, scrubbing her head covered with scattered, bristled hairs and scratching her ears was one of the coolest things I have done.