Elephant treks in Kanchanaburi are usually priced at more or less 20USD for 10-15 minutes. A simple ride, no jungle involved, costs less. A Khao San tour agency offered this surprise inclusion in their package – elephant trekking which was free, so why not?
Gently our planet’s largest land mammals see-sawed globe trotters on their back as they maneuvered rocks and growth. The water mark on the elephant’s body gives one an idea of the depth of the part of the river it waded through. If the beast suddenly sat and rolled on the water, all this would turn into a swimming party.
While snapping from behind I noticed another elephant ambling alongside us, without ‘passengers.’ Curious, I asked the mahout what’s the name of our chang (elephant). He smiled, “Siripon.” “And this little darling here?” “Baby, baby of Siripon.”
The trek took us through cassava, tomato and eggplant fields. We passed by a tree where Siripon’s baby tarried at the leaves on the highest branches. The mahout sounded impatient and urgent as he dealt with it in a way I understood as ‘no, you can’t do that, come along now.’ Mother instinct kicking in, I said, “it’s okay, let him play.”
Clock was ticking, and I remembered: tourists were on holiday; Siripon was at work. I felt sorry for her baby. But back at the ‘Elephant Terminal’ Siripon and her young were getting ready again for a new group of tourists. They looked fine so I stopped worrying.