Sabu the Elephant Boy

By popular request the Grumpy Blog is back.

I know its been a long time and i know most of you read my ramblings primarily in the hope that ill ‘Go off on One’ and i know my last few blogs have been a disappointment.

Its not really my fault if things have all gone too smoothly, if i haven’t been housed with the village idiots from across the globe or maybe I’ve just stopped making a Twat of myself.

Well today it all changes.

Today i have the basics of a good rant at my fingertips.

We decided to do some thing a bit different. We’d spent an awful lot of time led on the sun beds and most of that I’ve been asleep.

Even the Beach Traders said. ‘You sleep all day yesterday, i watch you’ before adding. ‘Lazy Bastard’ in Thai.

Option A was to just jump on one of the ……… Thai Taxis that cruise around the island and get off when we saw some thing interesting.

Option B was to get a Meter Taxi and go to a specific destination.

We decided to go to Namuang Waterfall which is apparently a bit of a beauty spot and you can swim in the pool at the bottom. This sounded appealing so we went for that, negotiated a Taxi to drop us off and come back and collect two hour later (1000 BHT) and off we went.

Down to the water fall

There was a slight hitch when we got in the taxi as the back seat was wet. Presumably someone had got in with wet swimming costume and soaked the seats, or it may have been some thing worse?

So i sat in the front seat next to the driver. This wasn’t a great idea as it meant i could see what he was doing at all times, which wasn’t, keeping his hands on the wheel and looking where he was going.

He spent most of the time with his finger stuffed up his nose, routing around for some thing. When he did remove his digit it was to text on his phone or to make a call. Both of which required him to let go of the wheel and look down for long periods while we veered across the road or edged closer and closer into the under growth.

When we got there we were a bit disappointed as it all looked a bit run down.

We were dropped in a car park and encouraged to take an elephant ride by our driver who by now had both hands visible.

You couldn’t avoid the Elephants as there were 3 chained up just next to the car park and people were buying food from a stall and feeding it to these swaying critters.

Chaind up Elephant

We debated long and hard about the ethics of riding an Elephant, both of us feeling there was some thing basically wrong with using a wild animal for entertainment. However, this is Thailand, people are starving and they need to make a living. Somehow when your here, the European views on most things are distorted.

I worked at Bristol Zoo some years ago when they acquired two Elephants, Wendy and Christine though both failed to reach maturity. I remember having a ride on an Elephant there as a small child, and on a Camel too though that was less exciting. But those days have gone and Zoo’s seem to have a dilemma.. By their nature they keep animals for us to look at but that isn’t PC anymore, so when you visit a zoo now its full of interactive exhibits or digital animals or worse, those that are deemed too stupid to know that living in a Zoo is bad for them.

So, as a once in a life time, never to be repeated experience we decided to have a go.

We were told there were three trips.

The Short one (35 minutes for 700 BHT each). The middle one (45 Minutes at 1000BHT each) or the Long one which we discounted immediately. Choosing the middle one we paid up and joined the queue of people and there were hundreds waiting for their turn.

Standing on a wooden platform ‘Our’ Elephant came along and stopped in the exact spot to allow us to climb on board, stepping gingerly on his neck in the process.

The metal framed seat salvaged i expect from an old bus was tied with rope to the animals body and some old mats and blankets were used as padding.

We could have done with some padding ourselves as the foam in the seat was virtually non existent. I took my flip flops off and used them to pad my legs from the worst of the metal bar that was cutting into my thighs.

The motion too was very unpleasant and i started to feel a bit queasy, which might have been due to my Dodgy stomach, some thing i had been battling all morning.

Luckily we were off the Beast by the time i needed to go again and so i paid my 10 BHT to the lady and used the facilities available. They weren’t too bad though they ‘ponged’ of Moth Balls and you had to run the risk of a Mozzie bite on yer Bum but hey.

Our ‘Mahout’ did a good line in broken English and told us our elephant was a Boy called Billy (destiny) who was 13 years old. He was in love with one of the other elephants and would try to follow her is he could.

Billies head and trunk

The Mahout carried a stick with a vicious looking spike on the end and i feared the outcome if he hit Our Billy with it whilst we were on board though his gnarled feet seemed to be the thing the Elephant feared most.

So off we went, almost 20 feet of non stop jungle experience.

And then we stopped.

Apparently the Elephants aren’t allowed to come within 20 metres of each other and given our Jungle Trek turned out to be a walk around the ticket booth ( No more than 50 meters away maximum at any time) this became problematic.

Crossing the river
So we wandered over a road and around a pen housing a female Elephant with a 10 day old baby (Big Ahhhs), then up a bit of an embankment where we spotted a huge monitor Lizard  (much bigger than the one in the photo below) which didn’t want to be around an Elephant and is, according to Sabu the Elephant Boy good eating, especially on the BBQ.

Small Lizard

Then we stopped and Sabu got off the Elephant and proceeded to cut some branches which he fed to Billy. This impromptu rest stop wasted a good ten minutes before he got back on board and gave the order to ‘walk on’.

We found ourselves traversing the Pen with mum and baby in it, crossing the road (again) and then entering a shallow river, from where we could see the loading platform and in the distance, the famous water falls.

My mate Simon has a better water feature in his back garden and there are Koi Carp to feed.

the waterfall

Here again Sabu dismounted and insisted that i sit on the Pachyderms neck whilst he took our picture. With arthritic knee’s and a sore bum this wasn’t the best mode of transport for me though i did manage it though. getting off was a totally different thing.

After the photo shoot Sabu remounted and we were on our way back to the loading platform.

This was where Sabu produced some rather un attractive Elephant themed necklace’s and tried to sell them to his captive audience. When we declined he asked outright for a tip, preferably he said, 200 BHT.

So that was it.

Our 45 minute ride had in the most part, had been spent standing still, feeding the Elephant or waiting for others to pass us by.

We had travelled a distance of some 100 metres but hadn’t gotten any further than 10 metres away from the car park.

We’d been subject to cold selling and bribery and we had sold our souls to the Devil.

The question we were left with is this.

What is the difference between the 35 minute ride and the 45 minute ride?

The answer can only be. The 35 minute ride has less stops.

So if you come to Samui and you want a diversion form the beach, take my advice.

DONT do the Elephant ride. Its expensive, its degrading and it not worth compromising your morals for.

Take a foot massage instead, now that is value for money!


2 thoughts on “Sabu the Elephant Boy

  1. Back to your best grumpy…
    I presume that was an elephant dump, a bit too solid for you?
    Shame you are not in Cape Town watching Stokes hammering the South Africans.

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