The day we had both been waiting for finally arrived. We had originally been booked to go to the elephant sanctuary a few days before but Suz had been ill and luckily for us the sanctuary had let us change the date without losing our deposit.
At 11:30am we were picked up by a large tuk tuk with four French and two other British people in the back. The journey to the sanctuary was long and like all car journeys in Thailand, filled with terror and adrenaline. When we finally got there we met the six elephants; Filo, Natalie, Diamond, Boa, Choo (who was the only boy and a very naughty one at that) and Sofar.
I’d seen elephants in a zoo before but never up close and personal where I could touch them and feed them. They really are the most magnificent animals. As we waited for more of the tour group to arrive we took photos with the elephants and watched as they roamed around, unfortunately Diamond went over to the rubbish tip that the local family had created and ate a big plastic bag full of rubbish. What the hell? I thought this was a sanctuary where the elephants are looked after, not allowed to just eat the rubbish that these people haven’t bothered clearing up.
These elephants had all come from riding and logging camps and we were taught more about the history behind their horrific ordeals before we chopped up a series of sugar canes, bananas and watermelons for us to feed to the elephants. If you forgot the elephant’s name you could say “bon” and the elephant would open its mouth for you to put the food directly into it. If you didn’t say bon then the elephant would find the food in your hand with its strong and hilarious trunk anyway. The baby elephant was still exploring the world with its trunk and it sniffed up Suz’s shoe laces and my bracelet ties.
Feeding and Bathing the elephants
As we were feeding the elephants the youngest one, who had only just woken up, just stood there nibbling her sister’s ear. The eldest, Filo, 60, ate away from Choo the four year old naughty boy because Filo doesn’t like him, mainly because he’s naughty.
Once the elephants were fed we bathed them in the large mud spa that felt like a big pool of the squishiest poo, I have a feeling it probably was. The elephant’s playful spirit was so much fun, they splashed and fell over in the mud waving their legs wildly, we were told beforehand to stand behind them if they fall over otherwise you’ll be kicked and end up at the other end of the sanctuary.
Their trunks were so strong and so useful; they picked up food with them, they cuddled us with them and they sprayed themselves with the watery mud with them. We walked the elephants over to the clean water pool (where we had seen one do a big poo an hour before) and washed away all of the mud. Again, so much fun, water squirted everywhere and Suz and I tried very hard to keep away from the section where we’d seen the large poo drop.
Ping Pong stories and home time
During the entire day it pissed it down, biblical rain, and as we enjoyed our lunch it started to thunder loudly. This only added to the total awesomeness of the day. Sat opposite us during lunch was an Australian couple who told us all about the ping pong show they saw the night before.
‘They used balls, budgies, hamsters, terrapins and they thrusted out darts to pop balloons.’ The woman told us. It was free to enter (the show not the woman’s vagina, perv) but the drinks were 1200 baht/£27 each and you had to buy at least one. Apparently at one point the hamster escaped out of the performer’s vagina and tried to make a run for it but she grabbed it and shoved it back in. We had been thinking of seeing a ping pong show but we decided that if they’re going to misuse animals in that way then we ain’t going anywhere near it!
The tuk tuk ride home was the most frightening of all journeys due to the heavy rain. The large muddy hill at the entrance of the sanctuary was narrow and, thanks to the rain, very slippery. We struggled to get a good grip going up the hill but then we slid down the hill just using the breaks. Fucking terrifying.
If you’re in Phuket and want to see some elephants then I definitely recommend going to this sanctuary, please don’t go ride them, elephants are not meant to be ridden and they are extremely mistreated.
Cost: 2,500 baht pp