Posted by: rbieterm | October 18, 2009

Elephant Owner for a Day

Bathing in the river.  It's what we all do best :)  And...normally I don't look that bald!  River water makes your hair flat!

Bathing in the river. It's what we all do best :) And...normally I don't look that bald! River water makes your hair flat!

At Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai Thailand, Pat and his wife (the owners) warmly welcome you to their farm to play the role of elephant owner for a day. With one on one help from a trainer (who are local tribe members), you quickly learn all that goes into raising a healthy and happy elephant on a daily basis! It’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have as a tourist. The day begins by testing the waters. Is your elephant happy? Is (s)he healthy? Just hold up some bananas, call out his/her name and wait for a response. If you get ear flapping, trunk flailing, and horns-a-blazing, you’ve got yourself a best friend for the day! Go feed him/her!

Breakfast!!

Just getting to know each other! Kinda like a first date.

Katy looks a little more comfortable w/ it than I do!  Check out those teeth!

Katy looks a little more comfortable w/ it than I do! Check out those teeth (on the elephant)!

After a little bit of food, it’s time to ask the more intimate questions. Question 1: Are your feet sweaty? In the elephant world, that’s a good thing. Pat said the only place an elephant sweats is through it’s toe nails. I wish I only had that problem! Just call me Pit Stains McGee :(

Question 2: What does your poop smell and look like? Actually elephant poop is a lot like horse poop. B/c they’re vegetarians, they tend to have a mild smelling poop and it tends to be very fibrous! That goes for humans as well. Maybe you all should think about becoming vegetarian too :) If you know what I mean :)

Just a little toenail sweat is considered to be healthy!

Just a little toenail sweat is considered to be healthy!

Does the book Everybody Poops come to mind here?  Someone tell me you've read it or seen it before!

Does the book Everybody Poops come to mind here? Someone tell me you've read it or seen it before!

Mmmmm.... another vegetarian with a high fiber diet.

Mmmmm.... another vegetarian with a high fiber diet.

Ok, looks good so far. Your award for being healthy is a brush down w/ some leaves and a sponge bath.

An elephant exfoliator.  The key to looking young is proper maintenance!

An elephant back scratcher and dirt remover. The key to looking young is proper maintenance!

To the water!!

Grab em' by the ear.  Just like the nuns use to do to me!

Grab em' by the ear. Just like the nuns use to do to me!

Oh…forgot to mention our tribal wear is authentic. The women of the Karen tribe (that’s actually the tribe that has the women w/ the long necks with all the gold rings around them) make them and we wear them b/c their sons’ (the trainers) wear them. This makes the elephants a little more confortable around us.

Exfoliation!!

Exfoliation!!

One last wash down!  Check out the arch on our water bucket toss.  Not bad, eh??

One last wash down! Check out the arch on our water bucket toss. Not bad, eh??

I take that back... one more rinse off!

I take that back... one more rinse off for all of us!

After our bath, it’s back to base camp for another feeding! These guys eat 10 percent of their body weight a day! For me, that would be about 18 lbs of food a day. Wow!

That's right, it's a cow bell around that elephants neck.  Sadly, it's to keep poachers from getting at the ivory.

That's right, it's a cow bell around that elephants neck. Sadly, it's to keep poachers from getting at the ivory.

Ok, eating is over. No need to wait for digestion. It’s ongoing! So let’s ride!

"Just sit right on top of their head.", they said.
“Just sit right on top of their head.”, they said.

About an hour later, we reached the waterfall! Time for lunch and a swim with friends.

Hey, where did my elephant go?  I swear I was just sitting on him.
Hey, where did my elephant go? I swear I was just sitting on him.

There he is!!
There he is!!

At the end of the day, Pat told us he matched us up w/ our elephants based on personality. Based on these pictures, I’d say we made cute couples!

"Is this an elephant or a hairy rock?"
“Is this an elephant or a hairy rock?”

Peek-a-Boo
Peek-a-Boo

Staying on the elephants in the water proved to be very difficult for Katy.
Staying on the elephants in the water proved to be very difficult for Katy.

Ok... I guess I had a little trouble too!
Ok… I guess I had a little trouble too!

But in the end... we came out on top.  Well, kind of.
But in the end… we came out on top. Well, kind of.

Well, one of us did!
Well, one of us did!

When Katy and I sign up for tourist attractions, we always have this worry (as I’m sure many of you do too) that our experience won’t feel authentic and that we’ll feel as if we were just part of the masses paying our money and passing through. Pat made sure this wasn’t the case! He was there everystep of the way sharing w/ us his visions of the future and speaking to us as if we were a major part of it. It was inspiring! He even put us on an email list to let us know when the next baby was to be born! He was a business man who really cared about his business! Way to go Pat!

Lunch time!!
Lunch time!!

And a little entertainment!!
And a little entertainment!!

and table scraps for the beggers.
and table scraps for the beggers.

I was almost a table scrap!!
I was almost a table scrap!!

After an authentic Thai lunch, we hopped on our elephants for the long trek home.

All aboard for one last ride.  BTW, Katy was a ninja in her previous life.
All aboard for one last ride. BTW, Katy was a ninja in her previous life.

Over the river and through the rice fields... I think that's how the song goes over here.
Over the river and through the rice fields… I think that’s how the song goes over here.

One last goodbye.  What an incredible experience!
One last goodbye. What an incredible experience!

What a day! Btw, all of these pictures were taken by Pat’s camera people and included in the original price! Usually when you go out with a tourist group, they take a lot of pictures and then beg you to buy them at the end of the day. At the end of the day, Pat’s uncle dropped us off at our hostel and an hour later, Pat, himself, dropped off the two CD’s (over 700 pics and 100 video clips) at our hostel’s front desk! First Class!!


Responses

  1. Oh my gosh!!! My favorite yet!!! How amazing!! I would have loved to roll around with that elephant…in credible creatures. Ahh :))) I’d write more but my incredible creature is squirming around ready to eat the phone. :)

    Love l n g

  2. Way too cool!! :-) Looks like you both had a blast!

  3. What a truly exceptional experience which made me very jealous. I was so impressed with how easy you two made getting on a elephant look. I can only imagine my endeavor to get on the head of an elephant. Your faces radiated pure joy which made me so happy.

    Much love, Mom

  4. Totally Awesome!! Everything! :-)

  5. Man, these pictures are really amazing…so cool

  6. Hi Rick/Katy. Just got back from New Orleans this morning and enjoyed catching up on the blog. I love the elephants!! I’ll have to show Casey. Wonderful that you’ll be volunteering in Katmandu. Love, Mom

  7. Just lovely and envious. How I wish I could experience the same.

  8. hey itz a everlasting experience just by web
    but virtually ir ll be heaven. leading life with animals that too innocent elephants is really like leading a life in a heavenly world.

    even i love elephant’s
    i love this blog

  9. wow! pictures are amazing!! that elephant is wonderful! i think it is not easy to bath him. he is so huge!!

  10. hi Rick and Katy,

    I visited Patara in June this year, and what an amazing experience! It’s great to see other people blogging about it, because it really was a life-changing adventure that I don’t think you understand until you’ve worked with the elephants. Loved all your pictures, they remind me of all the fun I had that day, and all I learned (I, too, have a dung-sniffing photo! haha)

    If you’re still in Thailand, or going back, I highly recommend Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi – absoutely incredible! Go to the morning breakfast with the monks and feed/play with/bathe the tigers. unforgettable….

    light and love,
    bethany :)

  11. Hey! Great trip, huh? I was just wondering what’s the price like for a day like this? I couldn’t find anything from their website.. thanks!

  12. I saw you featured on the WP page. Get me on a plane to Thailand. Thai food AND elephants! What a life!

  13. Great trip, and thank you for beutiful picture.

  14. Wow!!
    It’s just amazing.
    I wanna be a friend of elephant.

  15. What remarkable images… I can’t imagine what that would be like…

  16. Thank you for sharing this. Its an enjoyable, feel good, add to the list of places to visit, read.

  17. There is not much in this world that I like more than elephants. Such beautiful graceful creatures! :)

    http://www.theprettyproject.com

  18. How wonderful to befriend an elephant for a day . . . my favorite animal!! I’d love to visit Chiang Mai just to share in these experiences of your adventures. Great post!

    http://steinbeckforlovers.wordpress.com

  19. [...] PS – Discovered this blog today. It makes me want to take off and be amazing. It’s called Adventures on Planet Awesome [...]

  20. OMG i so love this! :D thanks for sharing those wonderful pics :D

  21. This is so great! In fact, it’s greater than the pink elephants that I OWN….ok…I don’t really own them…ok…their in the condo above…ok…technically I’ve never seen them…but I’ve heard them…ok…someone might confuse them with noisy neighbors…but I KNOW that I have pink friends of my own in the condo above me. ;) I’m sure of it.

  22. Just blogwaking… anyway nice pics! ^_^

  23. interesting !!!

  24. Seems you had enjoyed very well with elephant and nice pictures also there. Nice blog man.

  25. great, i love big animal :)
    you have to visit Indonesia, especially komodo island..

  26. hey coool

  27. This is brilliant! Did you guys make paper out of elephant poop? I went there, too, and the paper-making process was, as they say in Lion King, “slimy…yet satisfying.” Have fun on your travels!

  28. That would be SO COOL! I love the pictures also.

  29. Nice one mate… Must say a really good experience one of its kind

  30. That is SO cool. My friend would LOVE to experiance something like that if she had the chance to.

  31. Wonderful photos! My daughter-in-law is currently at Elephant Nature Park as a volunteer working with elephants for a week and we haven’t gotten any photos yet, so this was especially timely and interesting to us. You look like you’re having a fantastic time. My son is also in Thailand, immersed in Muay Thai training at the Fairtex Camp in Bangplee. We’ve gotten photos from him, and from what we’ve seen Thailand is an absolutely gorgeous place. If you don’t mind, I’m going to add your blog to my blogroll so I can follow your adventures.

  32. Just incredible, great images, amazing opportunity and experience!

  33. Now that looks like FUN!!!

  34. looks like a great experience!

  35. super cool

  36. Wow! What amazing pictures :)

  37. nice animals…

  38. what a phantastic story!
    thanks for sharing this amazing piece of real live with us :o)

    http://shopadidas.wordpress.com

  39. I hope that I’m able to visit this place someday. For now, I can only imagine the countless breathtaking moments you must have experienced at this elephant farm. Amazing creatures.

  40. wow

    http://s8529226.wordpress.com

  41. What a great blog! This looks like the making of a fun book.

  42. incredible

  43. [...] http://trekkingplanetawesome.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/elephant-owner-for-a-day/ [...]

  44. If I’m ever in Thailand, being an elephant owner for a day is not definitely on my to-do list! Thanks for sharing!

  45. If I ever find myself in Thailand, being the owner of an elephant for a day is now on the to-do list. Thanks for sharing!

  46. If I someday go to Thailand, being the owner of an elephant for a day is definitely on the to-do list. Thanks for sharing!

  47. I am envious of your time there. I was there about 4 years ago and fell in love with Thailand and the elephants, of course. Enjoy your time in such a lovely place.

  48. wow! that is amazing and looks like a lot of fun.thanks for sharing the pic. and videos

  49. I loved reading this post! How great an thanks for sharing the experience :)

  50. [...] ?!RANDOM POST?! ?!Elephant owner for a day!? Post [...]

  51. great!

  52. This is totally added to my list of things to do before I die!

  53. [...] here to read more and see more amazing photos! Leave a Comment No Comments Yet so far Leave a [...]

  54. BEAUTIFUL!

  55. very good!

  56. [...] top posts of the day Elephant Owner for a Day Singapore Airlines All-Business Class and The Longest Flight on [...]

  57. OMG!
    I envy you so much!
    They look so cute and amazing!
    AWWWWWWW

  58. i’m green with envy! that was great! i like that picture of you guys having lunch on banana leaves. cute. :)

  59. wow, great pictures, you made me wanna travel

  60. some more….awesome…more photos pls.

  61. paradise isn’t it

  62. hey. want to visit Philippines…lots of wonderful , breathtaking place awaits here…

  63. oh my gosh your sooo lucky!!!!!

  64. i wish i could be an elephant owner for 2 days that would be soooo cool!!!!

  65. My husband and I are planning on going to Thailand this year and this is one of the main things I know I HAVE TO DO! Your pictures are incredible and I was wondering if they take pictures of you with your own camera or did you get other guests there to take them, because I see some of both of you on the elephant…and basically capturing the memories is just as important to me as making them!! Also if it’s yours what kind of camera was this, a water safe one? haha thank youuuu

    • They take the pics with their cameras and don’t even charge you extra. Lots of videos too! A wonderful day!!!

  66. Based on your response and others’, my husband and I went to Patara- wow, it is everything one would imagine!!! which elephants did you have? I rode Nui, and my husband rode a very pregnant Meboon-Thong. Happy travels =)

  67. [...] Visit Thailand. And Australia. We visited both places last year on our eastern hemisphere trip and met an older woman in each country who shamed us into our overuse of air conditioning. In fact, [...]


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