Meeting the Eles!
The second day trekking with the elephant, I meet Kham Moon and Kham Suk a mother and daughter adult herd. We trek up my favourite track again and down the main road, following the mahouts into the forest, we find a clearing and mahouts head off to find the girls. We sit in the clearing (and I have a pepper moment, Nikki plays her I pod Wayward son by Kansas plays it is completely surreal). We then hear the elephant bell in the distance and Jordoh returns with Kham Moon, she stands patiently whilst we do a health check and then goes off into the river, a short time later we hear the second bell and Singtoe appears form further up the mountain forest with Kham Suk. She also stands whilst we health check, the mahout leads her towards the river, Kham Moon has moved further up the river and as Kham Suk heads for the water she slaps her trunk on floor, which unsettles Kham Moon, the mahouts give some instruction and the elephants settle and join each other at the river they stay for a while easy viewing distance but start to head up river, making viewing more difficult but they now seem happy surrounded by trees and plentiful food, in their element.
The ever thoughtful mahouts make sure we can still have a view of these majestic creatures, Singtoe make a path down over, it’s about a 200 foot drop to the river and elephants, there is no path, he nimbly cuts away the trees, bamboo and it seem whatever he is standing on throws it to the elephants and carries on his route all the way down this drop to the elephants. After clearing a view for us to watch he heads back up the same route, it’s miraculous to watch, myself and Kate open mouthed and Singtoe is standing next to us again, sing a song. I sometimes don’t know who to watch the Mahouts or the elephants, as this is also a very natural habitat for the Mahouts they are like magicians.
Then its lunch time a bit of pot luck all lunches provided by homestays in the middle a pot of rice each and the Mahouts get to work again. They bring some ingredients with them and find some in the forest. They chop bamboo and make an excellent serving dish / heating instrument, then start a small fire and make a fish soup heating water adding herbs and spices, when heated they add packets of noodles. They then peeled boiled eggs which they have brought in their pack and mash these in another bamboo serving dish they just managed to knock up in a few seconds. The eggs are mixed with coriander, chillies which have been toasted over the open fire, salt and forest herbs which have been crushed together in a bamboo made pestle and mortar. Lunch is ready and is delicious. We watch the elephants a little longer they are then left in the forest and we head back to base and I still cannot believe the terrain we are trekking but this is elephant territory and the best environment in which to see them.
Thursday after the day’s activities I head with Gemma to record enrichment for Mario (the babies are kept in the village overnight for safety and taken to the forest each day) we take a barrel with a rope strategically placed in it and fill it full of elephant grass the barrel is tied to a tree stump and given to Mario. We record his behaviour for stereotypical and the records are kept for research to see if this brakes up the monotomy of being in the village. After a while we add some bananas and elephant grass mixed in the barrel.
Friday we head off to Pai for the weekend as the elephants have the weekend free to roam the forest without us trekking. Pai is a cool, chilled out hippy town about five hours from the village. It has a café type culture with loads of hostels, places to eat, is great for shopping both day and at the weekend we all head back refreshed for the next week.
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