Travel Photo of the Week: Elephant Attack in Chiang Mai!


Travel Photo of the Week: A Naughty Elephant in Chiang Mai

Next to camels, elephants are the most ridiculous form of transportation possible. I was unlucky, as usual, and ended up riding a particularly cranky one. She’d stop every ten feet or so and refuse to move until the mahout clonked her on the head with a wooden stick.

She would grudgingly start moving again, only to stop thirty seconds later while I sat baking in the sun. After twenty minutes, we had covered about 100 feet. As we approached the stop where the tourists are pressured to buy bananas for their steeds, mine decided to take a shortcut down a steep hill at speed (speed being a very relative term here). It was like riding a ten-ton paint shaker and I quickly understood why the seat had a locked bar across my lap. I spilled my beer twice.

The best part of the experience was actually after we finished the ride and got to hang out by the water watching the elephants gleefully bathe and roll about in the water. The one pictured here almost got me — I had just enough time to snap the shot and then turn to shield the camera.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nomadic Samuel June 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm

A brilliant shot & even more impressive is that you managed to pivot enough to save your camera…LOL Well done!


Phil June 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I like how your site is turning into an animal photo blog. Seriously, I do. I have a lot of problems with your first sentence, though. Elephants have nothing on camels. How many camels sprayed water at you like that? I’m guessing zero, because camels actually understand that h2o is a precious resource that shouldn’t be carelessly sprayed around.


wes July 1, 2011 at 7:35 am

Ha! You are correct: a camel would never spray water at you. It will, however, spit the contents of one of it’s 5,000 stomachs at you.


lazyTrekker July 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm

What a timing! Look at the sharp end of spray; it is as if metal wires sprung up :)


Abby July 2, 2011 at 12:11 am

You are one fearless photographer. I was terrified while riding an elephant, because I could practically hear him saying, “I have a mind of my own. And I’m crazy.”


wes July 2, 2011 at 8:01 am

Heh, they certainly have a mind of their own. Mine was stubborn as a mule and tried to drench me when we came to the river.


Maya July 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

Your naughty elephant ride sounds better than mine. My elephant stepped on snake and I got the ride of my life. After holding on for as long as I could, no seat for me, I ended up flat out on my back. I guess it isn’t everyday that you get thrown by an elephant.


flip July 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

great timing man… how much did you pay for the elephant tour if you dont mind me asking… im also in chiang mai and im thinking of going there maybe next week.


wes July 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

I really don’t remember — my brother bought the tickets. I normally wouldn’t have bothered. But I don’t think it was much, maybe 150 baht for a 30 minute ride? There’s a lot of touristy stuff in the area — Tiger Kingdom, where you can pet a tiger is quite pricey. 450 baht for 10 minutes with a tiger.


Lily July 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm

But ask yourself, how cranky would you be with a beer swilling rider on your back and a mahout clonking you over the head with a lump of wood?


wes July 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

I agree with you there. I cringed every time he bonked her :(


Cailin July 4, 2011 at 6:55 am

hahaha you were drinking and driving on an elephant!?!? rebel! hahaha


wes July 4, 2011 at 10:56 am

Hey, you can’t pass up an opportunity like that. They sold it at the concession stand :)


Theodora July 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I prefer elephants to camels, because they lurch yet. But folk who describe riding either beast as romantic/magical/amazing (delete as appropriate) need their heads seeing too. Missing Chiang Mai now, though.


wes July 11, 2011 at 7:07 am

Chiang Mai is lovely. A scooter is a much more convenient form of transport, though.


Yvonne July 13, 2011 at 2:49 am

Awesome shot! We’ve also been to an elephant camp in Chiang Mai and the most ridiculous part was when one elephant tried to grab the bag of my friend cause she didn’t want to give a tip for the painting show.


DTravelsRound July 25, 2011 at 8:51 am

I love this picture! And this story! I am so excited to hang with elephants in Chiang Mai!!


Bodlagz July 27, 2011 at 7:55 am

We went elephant trekking on koh Chang a couple of years ago, opted for the 2 hour trek. The first hour was fun, the second was hell.