In ancient Auytthaya we opened something new for us – elephant handling! This opportunity was provided by Elephantstay – non profit organization that takes care about retired old working elephants! Early in the morning we arrived at Elephantstay. It is located just a couple of kilometers from the center of Auytthaya that is why we decided to walk there. Our way was through authentic areas and colorful local markets… They were so attractive that we were almost late for our first lesson.
Elephantstay team greeted us warmly, offered tea and coffee and provided a short induction course into elephant handling. For that single hour I learnt about elephants and related to them traditions and history more than I knew in a lifetime. After a thorough safety instruction we were shown to “our” elephant lady. She was a 70-years –old elephant with kind clever eyes called Rosukon. Anna fell in love with her immediately and started dreaming about having her own pet-elephant. We spoke to Rosukon in Russian and she seemed to understand and to like us. Meanwhile it was the time for our first responsible job – to provide our Rosukon with a breakfast! I’ve never thought that elephants eat pineapples! Can you imagine one elephant eats up to 200 kg of pineapples per day! They eat fruits as well as leaves. We brought leaves and brave Anna put them straight into elephant’s trunk. If you take into consideration that elephants are the strongest creatures in the nature I decided to pay more attention to a pineapple. What do you think we had for dinner that day? And for breakfast? Yes, that’s right!
There are more than 60 elephants in Elephantstay, that is why Anna drew a portrait of our Rosukon not to mistake her with other elephants. Afterwards, we went out riding on our elephant and bathing in the river! We were taught how to give basic commands – “the turn signals” of the elephants work other way round. To move your elephant to the right, you need to touch his left ear lobe with your feet, and to turn left – do the same with his right ear lobe. Pat your elephant on his head with two hands to encourage him. After swimming we washed our Rosukon. We hosed her down and rubbed her skin thoroughly. Next, we fed her again, gave water, pineapples, washed again… uff, after such a busy day we could hardly stand on our feet. At home we ate some pineapples and went straight to bed. It would be no exaggeration to say it was one of the most vivid impressions we had during that journey. Thanks to Elephantstay team for such new and unusual experience!