We took our 14, 11 and 7 year olds on a full day at the Thai Elephant home. We were collected from our hotel, thank goodness because it was a fair distance from our city hotel. We were given a run down on information we needed for the day, then given clothes to change into. After reading previous reviews, we were prepared wearing our bathers underneath, and covering ourselves with bug spray. We were introduced to the elephants, then matched to them. Our 7 and 11 year olds shared an elephant. The one in the front held onto the head, and the one at the back held onto the Belly rope. It takes a while to feel comfortable and balanced, but it does get easier. We walked on some very steep paths, but the Elephants are very sure footed, and you will adjust yourself to sit comfortably. Lunch was pad Thai in banana leaves which we later fed to the elephants. Our kids struggled with chop sticks, but one of the guides found them spoons. At lunch you can buy soft drink or beer, but you are provided with two bottles of water to carry with you before you start. We then played in the mud bath with an elephant, whilst covering ourselves in the 'mineral mud'. Then we were off to the river for a wash which was the highlight of the day. A warning for the unfit, some Elephants can't squat down, so you have to climb on from its blended knee. A bit of upper body strength is required to do this elegantly (I have none!). My Elephant is pregnant due Around Nov. It was so nice to see my guide stopping often along the way cutting her sugar cane and grass to snack on. He did not once use his hook (nor did any other guides), just gave her verbal commands. At the river everyone got wet and had fun with the Elephants. The kids all had a go at being lifted up by an Elephant trunk, then sprayed. The Elephants looked like they we're having an amazing time, cooling off in the water. All in all it was an amazing experience for our family. To the people who gave bad reviews saying this was cruel, they forget that these Elephants are breed from generations of domestic Elephants who are well feed and cared for by generations of the same family. Unfortunately letting such a huge beast roam free in its off time isn't an option, just as we wouldn't let a huge bull wonder around our back yard. Our Zoos keep Elephants behind 2 inch bars, which would be too expensive an option for rural Thailand. These elephants are exercised, fed, allowed to free bath in the river daily. It was 'awesome fun' ( as said by our kids). P.S. Expect a sore backside for a few days afterwards, but so worth it!
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