Have you ever hugged an elephant?
Seriously, have you ever hugged an elephant right around his fat, dry, hairy neck? Then, gave him a kiss on the nose?
After I kissed his little trunk, I wrapped my arms right around this baby elephant’s neck and hugged him. Then, I told him he was cute and that I loved him. After all, he is an animal, and I love all creatures great and small – as long as they’re not trying to eat me, of course.
Brook didn’t hug the little (BIG) guy, but he did at least pose for a photo.
If you remember back in Fun Fact #3 last March, I told you about the market elephants we saw walking around on a daily basis throughout the city of Lopburi. Well, we’ve since moved from Lopburi to the North side of Bangkok, and we don’t really get to see them anymore. *Pouting like a 3 year old who lost his cookie.* They’re technically illegal in the city and more developed areas, and because of insane traffic, the laws and fines are actually enforced around here. I suppose it’s all for the better, as I would hate to hear of a poor elephant being injured or hit by a car as a result of them walking the congested, busy, dangerous roads in the city. But, I do miss seeing them.
So, how is it then, that I got such an opportunity as this to be so close to my giant leathery friends once again? We took a quick trip to the ancient city of Ayutthaya with our guests from the States (did I mention we had 2 visitors last week? It was a blast!) before they had to head to the airport on their last day. Ayutthaya is known for its ancient ruins, historic temples, and its elephants. Our original plan for the day included riding the elephants on a historic tour through the city, but our time was limited. So, what do you do when you don’t have enough time to ride the elephants, but you’re already there? You play with them! And hug them! And feed them! And get closer to them than any Zoo in the States would ever let you be!
This sort of practice is yet another thing that sets Thailand apart from the States. If you want to touch the elephants, you can!
This one walked right toward me and, when told by his trainer to give me a kiss, he proceeded to do so. He sniffed my head, blew stale trunk air right in my face, “kissed” (tapped) me on the nose with his trunk…
See that stuff that looks like just a little smear of dirt that I’m pointing to? That’s attached to a streak of slime that actually extends a few inches in either direction… and down my shirt. Elephant kisses can get messy. Yech.
But…. how many of YOU have ever been kissed by an elephant? Yeah, that’s what I thought. A little bit o’ slime ain’t no thing. :)
Have I mentioned yet how much I love elephants? They really are magnificent creatures. So gentle, so majestic, so interesting. Their skin is unlike anything else I’ve ever touched. Did you know that they’re actually quite hairy? They really are very graceful and surprisingly quiet as well. If you’ve ever watched an elephant’s feet closely as they lumber along, you’ll notice that their feet just seem to float silently up and down as they take each step. Oh, and, as I’ve come to learn from my Thai friends, tame elephants are actually rather fond of humans. This just makes me love these creatures even more.
So, who wants to come visit us next? If you show up, I just may take you to hug an elephant…
Here’s my album on Facebook if you’d like to see a few more pictures from the day.