It’s our last day with Smiling Albino and we are no longer solo. It’s time to join another group and get down and dirty. Down and dirty mountain biking that is.
It’s been two weeks of non-stop adventures in Thailand thanks to The Tourism Authority of Thailand and we are ending with a fabulous day of bikes, boats and elephants.
Adventures North of Chiang Mai
Starting in Chiang Rai city, we cycled out to the countryside to explore the rice paddy fields in rural Thailand. Our trip took us through the busy streets of Chiang Rai, back roads and small villages. The most fun was when we turned onto a dirt road to climb and barrel down some wicked fun hills.
Wait, I thought you said “bikes, boats and elephants” Your writing in the wrong order! Okay, Okay, yes, yes, the title is Bikes, Boats and Elephants because that has a cute little ring to it, don’t you think?
Pros and Cons of Riding an Elephant in Thailand.
There is much debate about riding an elephant in this world and each side has a very valid point.
Elephants should be able to roam freely and enjoy life in the wild. Unfortunately in places like South East Asia, elephants are being pushed out of their natural habitat due to rapid development and globalization. What can be done? There are options and there is hope and you can find out more at the Born Free Foundation or read about it at The Human Elephant Conflict; A topic that we explored while we travelled to Sri Lanka.
Elephant Rides with Smiling Albino
Our guide Scott made sure to talk about the plight of the elephant and is aware of the problems that the elephants face. He made sure to explain that these elephants were used as work elephants in the timber industry. As this trade has dwindled, there is little use for the elephants. They could be left to walk through the streets with their Mahout begging for money and bananas, or they could be used on a trail ride.
These elephants were very healthy and from what I could see treated very well.
The other options would be to watch an elephant perform in the circus, perform in an elephant camp, sit in a zoo, be chained in a temple or walk the streets of Thailand’s tourist districts begging for money. From what I can see this is the best-case scenario besides being free to roam.
The Elephant Ride
We got lucky and hopped on the only elephant in the pack that someone other than the Mahout (elephant master) can drive can drive. Part way through our ride, our Mahout asked us if we would like to drive the elephant. He hopped off and Dave hopped on our elephant’s neck. The mahout walked along side us and took our photo while Dave pretended to steer. (Let’s be honest, this elephant knows the trail well and walks it every day, it doesn’t need a lot of help getting back to it’s home) By the time we got to the river where we finished off the last of the tour, our trainer hoped onto the seat with me and let Dave ride it into the water. It was the coolest thing ever and Dave really enjoyed every minute.
After our thrilling elephant ride, we and our bikes caught a longtail boat back to our resort, Legend Chiang Rai River Resort is a beautiful boutique hotel with swimming pool, sun deck, spa and elegant restaurant. We wished we wished we could have spent more time there but were happy to have the evening to enjoy our room and peaceful veranda.
These two weeks were some of the best times we have had in all our trips to Thailand.
Smiling Albino took all our interests into consideration to put together a tailor made itinerary. As adventurers that wanted to try something new and get off the beaten path, they fulfilled our every desire.
From sea kayaking and camping on a secluded island to rock climbing, learning how to ride a motor scooter and exploring some out of the way places on country roads, we had the trip of a lifetime in a country that we thought we had already been there and done it all.
As the slogan goes, “Thailand the place you Remember.