In an unheard of move, I made the decision to take me and the man on a three day trekking trip while in Thailand. This included elephant riding, white water rafting and a short bamboo raft trip too.
We booked before we left home with Travel Hub. A company I can highly recommend, three days, including all activities, two nights accommodation in hill tribe huts and food, came to an incredibly cheap £60 for the two of us.
The trip would take us into the Mae Taeng area to the North East of Chaing Mai. A relatively unspoilt spot that would take us into the jungle and almost 1,200 metres above sea level for our first night’s stay!
Day one, we’re picked up from our hotel in an open backed jeep and meet, for the first time, our slightly crazy guide Abba and his “son”, a tiny squirrel that lives on his shoulder.
After picking up the rest of our small trekking team – two French, two French Canadians and a Glaswegian – we headed for our first stop. Elephants!
Now I’ve never actually ridden a elephant before, and was not entirely sure whether I wanted to. There is always the worry that they may be ill treated.
However, our majestic beasts looked very well cared for and seemed quite content to plod along, with the occasional banana as motivation.
They really are enormous animals, even though I’ve seen them on TV, it still doesn’t prepare you for the reality of their scale!
We had to climb up steps into a wooden hut on stilts and then onto our leviathan ride.
Here we are, resplendent on our grey wrinkly stead!!! With their long eyelashes and lined faces, they seem like world weary old people who have seen a fair few excitable tourists come and go.
Now it wasn’t exactly a comfortable ride! Perched on our tiny little seats, with only a very low rail to stop us from dropping off the edge, we rolled from side to side with every ponderous step!
Here’s some of the stunning scenery we meandered past at a leisurely pace.
Banana plants in the foreground really made you feel tropical, while the hills in the distance hint at the walking yet to come.
We had to cling on for dear life as our ponderous steads plodded onwards and if our ride had decided to make a break for it we would have been pretty much stuffed!
As it was we reached the end of our half hour ride relatively unscathed, although there was a unsettling moment when we had to go down a rather steep slope and we very nearly shot over the elephants head as we went down!
Even although I am above the wrinkly one I am slightly wary, hence the delicate little pat I bestow upon it and the slightly manic grin
They are very special creatures though, for all my joking. I rank them alongside unicorns and yetis – they are almost unbelievable! You have to pinch yourself to realise that you are actually standing next to one.
Next up a hair raising river crossing and we start the hike . . . .