When vacationing in Thailand the province of Chiang Mai is popular choice for both tourists and Thai alike, all looking for one thing, elephants. Elephants have long been one of my favorite animals so my stay in Thailand just wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to Chiang Mai.
The baby pictured above is chained to it’s mother in front of the loading area for the elephant rides. The rides were much more exciting than what you normally see in the US. Instead of just going around a loop while someone guides the elephant from the ground, a handler rides on the front of the elephants head and guides the elephant around the scenic park. At one point we even got to ride through a river.
My dad like’s to tell me how Thai children find the English word elephant very amusing because it is so complex. In Thai the word for elephant is “chang”, a very simple word in Thai and one of the first words babies often learn. For Thai culture the elephant is more than just a native animal it is a symbol and a deep part of their culture so “chang” is and important word. (I find it a bit amusing that it is now also the name of a popular beer.) Recently the first fully computer animated film made in Thailand came out, called Khan Khluay, about a famous war elephant owned by one of Thailand’s great kings. It had a huge toy market while I was there and I really wanted one of those stuffed animals for myself but for packing purposes had to be content with just bringing a copy of the movie home.