Finally it was the day everyone had been waiting for, the day of the visit to the elephant sanctuary. After a relaxing morning on the river rafts, we took off to meet these wonderful creatures, and it did live up to expectation. A local guide repeated the words “no worry” over and over, until I’m sure we’d got the picture. At times there was a slight sense of uneasiness, but he was right that there was nothing really to fear.
We began with feeding, offering large chunks of fruit that would be scooped from your palm by a strong, leathery trunk, before taking a walk through the lush jungle with them. Unchained and free to roam around at their leisure, you never knew when a mud splash was coming, or when one of them would just change direction in front of you. In the end though, all arrived at the riverside.
Having the opportunity to swim with and bathe the elephants was a definite highlight, and they were so playful too! You had to keep your wits about you though, as they could roll over or back up at any second.
Until you get up close and personal like this, you can’t truly appreciate how big and powerful the elephant is, with their skin tough and hairy, their fanlike ears flapping almost constantly, the actual size of their mouths.
Elephants are intelligent and beautiful creatures, and this is a sanctuary that has given up the idea of exploiting the beasts for pure entertainment with rides and games. If rescue elephants can be supported and played with at the same time as us being satisfyingly entertained, well, it can only mean a win for both sides.
From there we visited the famed Bridge over River Kwai and a war cemetery, bringing us momentarily back down to Earth. So far it has been all fun and games, but we also have to remember this isn’t always the case. The bridge itself is an average sight, but the intrigue comes from the history behind it’s existence.
When I consider the fact that so many prisoners of war, many of whom were younger than I am now, died during construction of these bridges due to poor treatment, it really makes my own problems seem to pale in comparison. It was one of those eye-opening moments, such a shirt break in this whirlwind of a tour, but such a worthwhile one.
To pick us back up again, there is a big night planned for the evening – and I for one cannot wait…