Going to the Elephant Retirement Park was definitely a neat adventure I’ll never forget!
The ride there was an adventure in itself. I get so car sick in the taxis and vans here and this man’s goal was to hit every pothole he could and swerve as fast as he could hitting the brake and gas at the same time. He succeeded greatly for sure.
I’ll be honest it was a little awkward being by myself for everyone was a couple and then there was me. But I have to say – do it anyway!! Because you can’t wait to live your life with someone else but live the life God has given YOU! I did have an advantage though because everyone was a tourist and I actually “live” in Bangkok. So when the tour guy said in Thai that these foreigners weren’t listening to him, I told the group I guess he wants us to go ahead and cut the bamboo. They all looked at me and said, “You know what he said?” So after that, the tour guides spoke to me in Thai and that made me feel special.
We then cut bamboo. It’s pretty hard and I’m not that coordinated so there’s that. I just imagined missing and cutting my hand off so I had to stop.
During COVID in 2020 and most of 2021, there were no tourists. So the owner tried to sell or even give his elephants to other homes because he couldn’t feed them all. People kindly donated food that they had to keep the elephants alive but unfortunately it wasn’t the best food for them. One of his favorites was Bella and she died eating too many mangos. He even choked up telling us the story…as I stood there hitting myself all over with a leafy branch. I somehow was the only one that stepped into an ant pile and they were biting me all over!
At the beginning of the tour, the baby elephant escaped it’s cage and came running toward our group! It ran right to me and grabbed my arm with her trunk and put it in her mouth! I just so happened to have my camera open on my phone and snapped two pictures not even knowing what I got. My arm was so slimy and muddy after the guide came and took her away. I was so shocked and laughed the entire time. Everyone was asking me if I was ok and if she hurt me but thankfully the baby didn’t have any teeth! I was so excited that happened!! My day was complete after that.
They took the elephants down the path into their mud bath. We got down there with them for the momma elephant to squirt me in the face with mud so I climbed back up out of the mud bath. We covered them in sand and then walked over to give them a real bath! Splashing water on them was a lot of fun but crazy to have such big animals flipping and flopping beside you. It was adorable how the baby elephant would get on top of the momma and then the momma would dunk it under while it’s laughing. Cutest thing ever!!! Until they decided to get out and I was in their way. So I swam and walked up those steps as fast as I could! Believe me, you’re in their way that’s your fault.
The elephants dried off as we put our buckets away and put on our shoes. Picture time!! When it was my turn, I was so thankful the photographer captured my experience. All I have to say is when the baby wants to play, stay away! Standing there and all of a sudden being hit by something that weighs over 600 pounds made me shriek in complete terror! Knocking me completely to the ground the guide hurried and came to steer the baby elephant away from me. It grabbed my shoe and everyone was like you aren’t getting that back. I stood up and grabbed it right out of it’s trunk. Haha I needed my shoe! She took a little chunk off the front of it so I will always remember what happened.
Now to the showers to try to wash off all the mud!! Then they fed us a delicious Thai meal and of course I was the only person who ordered a Coke to drink.
I was so blessed to be able to have such an adventurous day and not get hurt! Elephants are truly beautiful creatures….and huge….that the Lord made.
Here’s some fun facts that I learned throughout the morning.
1. There are over 4,000 wild elephants in Thailand and more around the borders that go in and out.
2. Elephants eat 10 meals a day!
3. They only sleep 3-4 hours out of 24 hours.
4. When they sleep – the old stand, babies and teenagers lay down.
6. They snore when they sleep!
7. They live to be around 50-80 years. Longer if looked and kept after, shorter if in the wild.
8. They are pregnant for 22 months!
9. While the males tusks are growing they become strong but also angry for it’s painful. (So stay away!!)
10. Elephants don’t like sharing food – even the momma doesn’t want to share with her child.
11. The baby has no teeth so they suck the sugar cane out of the bamboo.
13. The tip of the trunk – Asian Elephants have one tip and African Elephants have 2 tips to grab in front.
14. The Asian Elephant has 5 to 4 front toes while the African Elephant has 4 in the front and only 3 in the back.
15. The biggest difference everyone notices is that Asian ears are small and African ears are large.
16. If you see statues of elephants with their trunk down it means “peace” and trunk up means “good luck”.