Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Well, I just wrote an email of complaint to the Marriott group. I rang the Marriott in Melbourne, and talked to a really helpful manager who gave me the best email address to get the attention I deserve, so I was free to let rip.

Those of us who have suffered through teaching the year 12 analytical/persuasive writing will be pleased to know that I utilised every emotive trick in the book. By the time I was half way through I'd convinced even myself that we'd had the most horrific holiday since someone staying in London in 1666 through the Black Plague and the Great Fire. By the time I'd finished I'd written myself into good humour. I was so tickled by what I'd written that I was in fits of laughter. Everything I said was the absolute truth, but it was the spin I put on the language.... by gum it was fun. Now we'll wait and see if I hear anything back.

But back to Phukhet. ELEPHANTS!!!! Easily the high point of the trip for me. This was the thing I was looking forward to the most when I booked this trip. They didn't disappoint. They were so elephanty... it was delightful. They are covered with thick coarse hair that sticks out.... I always thought they were bald. (But then again, I also didn't know that Thailand was in the northern hemisphere until I saw the map of the flight on the plane. I got very excited. Maybe ignorance is bliss, because it's so cool when you get a surprise. And the Simpsons were right.... the toilet DOES flush in the opposite direction. It was the first thing we checked out when we got to the room.)

But I digress. Not unusual, but I usually connect back up to where I was heading for in the beginning. Just ask my long-suffering students. That's right.... Elephants. How chunky and ear-flappy are they? Lots.

We first saw a show with three baby elephants, where they played mouth organs (harmonicas to any Americans out there), wore hats, kissed the audience, and gave one person a massage. Naturally my hand was up like a shot. I had to lie down, and the elephant raised one leg and repeatedly pressed quite firmly on my behind and back. I was lying there, and it occurred to me that it was possibly quite stupid to do this... if the elephant was so inclined, he could keep pressing until his foot met the ground.... right through my middle. Actually, it felt ok, and I was glad I'd done it. Another experience. I cuddled the little one after she massaged me, and her trunk curled around and nuzzled my face. The skin is thick and ridged. It was a special moment.

After the show, Jack bought a basket of fruit to feed them. See the delighted grin on his face? It's moments like this that make everything worthwhile. But more was to come.
The elephant trek through the jungle was great. The three younger boys were on one elephant, and Jack and I followed. It was magical. The movement was a forward/back motion that at first seemed rough, but it was surprisingly quick to get used to. The vegetation was thick, lush and GREEN. Coming from such a drought-parched place, I can't describe how wonderful the green was. (I thought of my poor vegie garden... how sad and suburban am I?)
The boys' elephant was hungry. It kept stopping and tearing branches from trees and stuffing them into its mouth. And then it started to fart. There's nothing 'silent but deadly' about an elephant fart. It could deafen you if you were too close.
"Great, guys", I called to them. "We have to walk through that!"
That appealed to Connor's funny bone.

I was glad that I experienced this with Jack.He was obviously loving it - he even said so, which for Jack is amazing. (He's usually very chary about giving me positive reinforcement.) But his smile and his engagement with the whole thing said it all.
I loved looking at the ears. They hung like heavy folds of material just in front of my feet. When the elephant flapped them back they hit its sides with the same sound as fingers flicking an empty plastic cola bottle. Weird, but true.

We'd had torrential rain the day before, (we'd had a day at the resort in our room, watching dvds, reading and sleeping) and the ground was really gluggy and muddy.Sometimes the track headed sharply down, and I couldn't help wondering what would happen if our elephant slipped.It's quite an ask to keep one's balance on such slippery paths while balancing three people and a seat on one's back. Though it didn't seem as if we were all that high up, because the track was cut into the hillside for much of the way, so the foliage (or as my friend Ian would say... the foilage) rose up beside us. It was only when I looked down at the glug that I saw how high up we really were.
It was fantastic. If you ever get the chance, then grab it with both hands and don't let go. (That applies to both the chance, and the elephant!)

1 comment:

joanne said...

oh my lordy that was an elephant on your back wasn't it??????