Save a horse, ride an elephant

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Another day in the life of backpacker; transportation: elephant. The minivan picked us up and drove us about thirty minutes from Luang Prabang to a river, from where we got into a slow boat (aka a large canoe with a motor attached), which took us to the elephant’s lair. The boat glided swiftly on the calm, clayish- mud brown Mekong River as the blue skies enveloped us with bushy white, exorbitant clouds. The elephants stood waiting for us in all of their gorgeous, gigantic, and majestic splendor. Summer and I climbed a platform in order to carefully step on the muscular neck of the elephant to climb into the little seat that was strapped like a militant uniform around their corpulent belly on their back. A guide sat in front of us on its neck and tamely steered it through the jungle of Laos. It was wonderful—the elephant trip tromped through mud that was knee- deep.

–“We’re goin on an elephant trek. We’re gonna ride a big one! What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. Oh no! Mud. Thick, oozy mud. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh  no! We’ve got to go through it! Squelch, squerch, squelch squerch.”

The guide had a stick with a silver hook attached to the end that I prayed he would never use on the amazing creature that carried three of our body weights. After the walk, we were able to feed them bananas and sticks of bamboo, which they grabbed greedily- and adorably- with their ever-wandering trunks, and brought to their mouths to loudly munch on. Mine was master fatty, of course, and would hold about 3 bamboo sticks and 4 bananas in his trunk before transferring the enormous load to his mouth and scarfing the entire buffet down. The highlight of the whole experience was bathing the elephants. I sat on my own bareback (or bare neck I suppose would be the correct wordage) with only a small, loose rope around the neck to hold on to—not that I would need it just floating idly on their backs, I figured.

We were led to a pool at the bottom of a small waterfall and my elephant plunged in and started playing around. Opposed to the grueling thirty-minute walk we just encountered, he absolutely loved swimming in the water. Mine was obviously off his trunk crazy and so he was rolling around, completely submerging himself underwater for twenty seconds at a time as I was thrown off, laughing hysterically and trying to hold on for dear life. Then Summer and her elephant came to play. At first, it was innocent and endearing as they played together, but it quickly turned a little R rated when my elephant ceremoniously tried to mount Summer’s and bone it in clear sight of all the lovely on looking tourists. I held on with my legs in half horror, half uncontrollable hysterics as mine reared up on hers. The guide, to say the least, was not too happy with this inappropriate display of affection and jumped in the water after mine with that stick hook we both despised so much, my elephant courageously, disobediently, and fantastically running/ swimming away from him. Good on ‘im. I loved him in all of his horny magnificence.

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5 responses to “Save a horse, ride an elephant

  1. Absolutely love this adventure and your rendition of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”! Great pictures…I wanna play with the elephants too!!

  2. Hi Girls! We are currently doing a very similar trip to yours and came across your blog. Laos is next on our agenda and we are looking for advice! Any chance you remember the company/tour or elephant camp name that you did this through? Looks amazing! We haven’t been able to find one that lets us swim with them like this, would love to find it. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
    Kendahl and Devon

    • Hey! So exciting for you girls. I’m jealous and want to go back! We rode the elephants in Luang Prabang and there are a bunch of companies that do it. It’s better to book it once you are there, rather than online. On the main street in town there are a ton of tourist activity shops, so we just went into each one and told them exactly what we wanted to do and asked for their best deal. I think we ended up paying the equivalent of $30 or $40 US for the whole day package.

      Also in Laos make sure you go to a bar called Utopia. It’s outside and right on the river and it’s got a great atmosphere and a sand volleyball court. Also, if your looking for a good/cheap place to stay, check out the guesthouse Villa Merry No 1.

      • Thank you so much for the info! We are in luang prabang now and can’t wait to explore! Haven’t hit up Utopia yet but it keeps being recommended so we will definitely need to check it out.

        Really appreciate the info!

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