Have you ever ridden an elephant?

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Honestly I have never thought that I will ride an elephant in my life. But it happened, I did it! And it was a great experience. Of course I knew that elephants are sacred animals and symbol of Thailand. When we visited Ko Pha Ngan in November we met one couple with a map near one beautiful beach. We stopped our bike and asked if we could help them. They said that they were looking for elephants. We smiled and went on our ride. That moment I realized that I probably missed something important, I haven’t seen elephants in their nature habitat.

So next time when I came to Thailand I had been surrounded by things connected with elephants. Especially in Chiang Mai. I saw advertising about elephants everywhere, on each corner I could find brochures or billboards with elephants. Elephants were everywhere, in souvenir shops, in the mall, on the clothes of people, even in decoration of temples that we visited in Old Town of Chiang Mai. So it was a time to see them in real life, I thought, and we started to plan our trip to the Elephant Camp.

There are a few places near Chiang Mai you can visit to see elephants. They all are located about 20-50 km away the town. But we had chosen the closest one, Maesa Elephant Camp. You can take an excursion to the elephant Camp for whole day if you want. Usually it includes driving to the Camp by bus with a guide, elephant show, ride an elephant, lunch and stuff for feeding elephants. But we were independent travelers, so we just rented a bike and rode there by our own.

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The Maesa Elephant Camp is located not so far away from Chiang Mai in jungles. There are living a lot of elephants. They work with their mahouts (trainers), give shows and perform for tourists and demonstrate their unique abilities and talents. Also there is a nursery where elephants reproduce and rise their little babies elephants. They live with their mothers during childhood  being provided care of their mahouts. We were lucky to see the baby elephant and even feed him.

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The first thing we did when we arrived to the Camp was buying bananas to feed elephants. We were excited to do it, but we couldn’t expect to see such smart elephants. We were going to give by one banana to each of them but we were wrong. The first elephant just took all our bananas immediately. We definitely didn’t expect that, and it was really a very fun moment. Then we went to see the elephant show. At first elephants took a bath in a small river. Their trainers washed them while elephants were enjoying the process.

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After bathing elephants performed and gave a nice show. Everybody was impressed by their skills and talents. Elephants were playing football, dancing, singing and even drowning pictures. Tourists were able to buy elephant’s paintings after show and it was a great souvenir I guess. I couldn’t imagine that elephants are able to do something like that. I have seen elephants in zoo or in circus before but I was delighted seeing them and their activities in the nature habitat.

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There was just one thing that I really wanted to experience and it was a ride an elephant. I finally did it! I had chosen the one without a special seat, just on the back of an elephant. Trainer said that it was going to last about 15 minutes, just one circle around the Camp. I was a bit disappointed as I had been expecting an hour of ride or something. But after all I realized that 15 minutes were more than enough for me. It was really fun, unusual and very enjoyable.

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God, could I dream that I will ride an elephant after living whole my life in Moscow? It was a great experience for me that I will always remember. I took a lot of pictures and videos in the Maesa Elephant Camp. I watch it again and again and remember those exciting and happy moments of my life. World is full of amazing things and I appreciate very much this experience of communication with elephants that I had in Chiang Mai.

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