The morning starts off the same as usual. Breakfast is followed by a brief visit to the beach and a swim. Our afternoon is going to be a different, however. We meet our driver at 12:30 and head out for an afternoon of elephant riding, and a little Thailand education. We pick up another couple down the road at the JW Marriott. They are Indian, but have lived in Rochester, New York, since 1968. They’ve been everywhere, and it’s fun to hear some of their stories during the hour drive to Siam Safari, home of the Elephant Trek.
When we arrive, we’re organized into groups and transported to our first stop, a brief explanation about the elephants and their mahouts (handlers). Fully informed, we load onto our elephant, and start down the road. There is a lot of swaying as the elephant lumbers along the path. It’s intriguing watching the mahout “steer” the elephant. There is a balance of urging, and patience as we make our way. The elephant does seem to have a mind of her own. If a person were prone to seasickness, this might be a rough ride. When I read about the tour, I thought that ½ hour was not a very long ride, but when we get off, I’ve had more than enough elephant riding.
The remainder of the tour is a series of educational stops. We walk over to an area where they demonstrate the training of some of the younger elephants. The younger kids get to feed them. Next stop is a demonstration of tapping a rubber tree, and then how to convert the sap into rubber. It’s really well done.
Stop #3 is them is the making of Thai curry spices. They demonstrate the process, and then we get to sample. Stop #4 is the coconut. The demonstration includes traditional ways to open a coconut, how to grate the meat, how to make coconut milk, and then how to make coconut oil. They don’t waste much of the coconut. We’ve had curry on rice, then some coconut, and now a little Thai coffee to finish it off. Next is a demonstration of rice production and the use of the water buffalo in the process. We really enjoyed the demos. They peppered the presentation with humor, and the basic info was good.
After the last demo, our group is loaded onto a vehicle and moved into town and down to the docks at Chalong Bay. We have a sunset cruise with a buffet meal out into the bay. It’s an old wooden boat at first view, but after we’re onboard, it’s really very nice. The food is good, and the view is even better. Back at the dock, they load us back into a van for our return trip. It’s been a full day!