Thursday, February 10, 2011

Maesa Elephants

When CJ was just a tot, the elephant was one of the first animals she learnt to mimick, thanks to her Pop. Six years ago when she was 21, she announced "I want to go to Chiang Mai and ride an elephant". Stray and I looked at each other and decided to tag along. For the three of us it was our first time out of Australia. A whirl wind trip to Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay and back.

So now, as friends visit us in Chiang Mai, either Stray or I find ourselves again at the elephant camps just outside of Chiang Mai. This is part of the day I spent with JJ, at Maesa Elephant Camp, just the other week.

On arriving we posed with some of the mammoth mammals. Cute, rubbery and in need of a shave...the elephant didn't feel that cuddly either.
Bananas and sugar cane are available to buy and feed to the elephants, but be aware, a friend of ours told us their brother was handing over a 500 Baht note to purchase some fodder, when it was mistakenly scooped up by a near by trunk, and devoured.

Some of the 78 elephants that reside at Maesa.
After a very decent (tasty and affordable) lunch at the restaurant, we settled down for the show.
The elephants entering the ring
Elephant basket ball
Darts anyone? He..she...really gave this girl a run for her money.

We all know they're renowned for their wisdom and intelligence, so none of their impressive feats really surprise me, EXCEPT when it comes to painting.

One masterpiece a day is quite enough thank you very much!
Those that aren't sold on the day are on display in the gallery.
And bending it like Beckham. A great kick off and some comical procrastination.

Hmmm...I'm not quite sure what JJ's thinking right now?
The surroundings are quiet, serene and scenic. Especially if you stop for the coconut juice served in its shell (freshly cracked open on demand) and dawdle about after the show. We had the entire walking track to ourselves.
Our turn to drive...just joshing!
Our mahout has been with his 30 year old bull for ten years and you can tell that there's a special, gentle relationship between the two of them....even when his beast wanted to go for a swim with us onboard...naughty heffalump! 

They truly are magnificent beasts and appear to be well cared for. Of course I'd much rather see them in herds running wild in the jungles, but that would be a perfect world...wouldn't it!

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Lani said... Best Blogger Tips

My cousin took me here a few years ago. Your pictures reminded me of those dayz. Ah, younger Lani. Anyway, you look good in the first picture but then again, you always look good ;)

Yeah the elephant painting is a trip, ain't it?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

I'd love to see what's involved in the painting training/learning process. And thanks for the compliment dear ;)

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap I saw an elephant show at Nong Nooch, near Pattaya, and that too had elephants painting pictures. I still don't know how they do it. Maybe it's some kind of trick but that's me being cynical. I'm absolutely useless at drawing so perhaps it's jealousy on my part.

That's the first time I've heard Beckham mentioned in the same breath as an elephant. Victoria won't be too happy with you.

Mike said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap nice photos but I'm not a fan of the camps, although its better than the elephants on the street.

You and Stray need to visit a couple of the national parks and watch them in the wild ;-)

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@ Martyn, from what I've seen, there must be certain commands depending on the colour of the paint...for instance, I've never seen the elephants paint a green flower, only the stems.

I'll be sure to apologise to Victoria next time I run into her ;)

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Mike That's a good idea. I hadn't thought about visiting a reserve and after a quick look on the net, found this one The website alone shared some very interesting info.

Theodora said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow! That was your first time out of Oz? And now you're living in Asia? Hats off to you, seriously...

Z loved this place. I was a bit more cynical about the animals', errr, creative abilities than he was...

But, to be honest, given elephants were always working animals in Asia -- I don't think there've been wild elephants in Thailand for 500 years -- I don't have much more problem with elephants doing tricks than I would with show ponies doing the same.

Y'know. It's got to be easier than working in logging...

Or is this cynical of me?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Theodora We definitely got bitten by the travel bug, big time.

You make a very valid point about the elephants. I would certainly prefer to be painting, than logging. I don't think it's cynical, more of a case of the 'lesser of the two evils' perhaps ;)