When we finally crossed the river, we started walking along a path that looked out over the actual Elephant Nature Park and the riding camp that is sandwiched between the two plots of land for the Elephant Nature Park. It was really a very interesting experience as we started walking with the elephants and seeing elephants walking in the river with people riding them was almost surreal and a very interesting juxtaposition to see. We had spent our morning with these four elephants that were obviously well taken care of, free and had been rescued from activities that didn’t afford them any level of freedom. And here were elephants that were still held in captivity doing as they are told for fear of being beaten. It was a little unsettling. Especially knowing that elephants are some of the smartest animals in existence and it made me wonder if the elephants recognized just how lucky or unlucky they were. As we walked along this trail, we actually ended up running into a group of 5 elephants that were being ridden along the same path in the opposite direction. We had to stop our elephants and wait for the other ones to get off the path so that we could continue on our way up the mountain for lunch. All the elephants were incredibly well behaved, it was like they had experienced this before and they knew the drill.
We finally got to our destination and sat down in a hut that overlooked the river and the Elephant Nature Park. There we enjoyed some freshly made vegetarian Thai food and we relaxed for about an hour. After lunch, we started our walk back to the other side and this meant that we were walking back toward the river. We had all been restocked with bananas and that signified to the elephants that it was time to start walking again. As we started down the path again, there was one elephant that knew that if she separated the group, she could pick off people, trap them with her trunk and not let the person pass until she got a banana. So she would walk up behind people, and as soon as she came upon a straggler, she would walk up to the side of them and move her trunk from of them. I know that this was her tactic because she did it to me. I got trapped to the side of the trail and couldn’t get around her because she was blocking me from anything. So I fed her a banana and slipped away from her and started walking again. She continued to do this until we reached the end of the trail. These elephants were definitely not shy and were definitely a little frisky. As we would walk, if you weren’t paying attention, an elephant trunk would pop up next to you or behind you and start sniffing around looking for food. This meant that there was no part of your body that did not get sniffed by the elephants and for the people wearing looser clothing, this meant a frisky elephant which always caught a person by surprise. You would hear chattering and conversation then a slight yelp as someone was surprised by a friendly elephant sniffing around for bananas.
When we got to the river, it was time to make sure we got rid of all of our bananas, so we stood in a group with the elephants all around us and fed them the remainder of our bananas. It was definitely an interesting experience. It’s a little terrifying to be standing in a circle of elephants because it really puts all of it in perspective just how large they all are and how close you are to being completely trapped. And one wrong move could be a bad situation. So after finishing off the bananas that I had, i quickly left the circle because i was starting to feel a little unnerved by the lack of places to escape. When everyone had finally finished off their bananas, it was time to bath the elephants.