Rush Hour and the Elephant


I was about three months into my journey, sitting at an outdoor cafe in Phnom Penh and drinking a beer, monopolizing the wifi. It was rush hour, 5pm, and as I was hanging out I saw a full-grown elephant come walking down the street, minded by her trainer and wearing shoes made from recycled tires.

The same thing happened the next day. And the day after that.

And that was when I realized how much my life had changed: I no longer thought “Holy #$#!, there’s an elephant in the road!” but instead: “Oh, there’s the elephant. It must be five o’clock”.

It’s a wonderfully weird world.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

neale June 18, 2014 at 7:04 am

I can relate totally :-)


Bryan June 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm

A lot of your stories seem to start with, “I was drinking a beer.” I can relate. We should hang out.


Kelly June 18, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Rush hour here in Chico, CA lasts about 7 minutes when more than 8 cars are lined up waiting for the light to turn green. Sure wish we had an elephant in that line.


Colleen June 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I’m a new reader and these last few weeks I’ve been digging into your blog.

I was disappointed when I just saw the length of this latest post. But then I read it and it made laugh out loudly (which many of them do). It was just perfect.

Over Saturday morning coffee my husband kept looking at me funny. I tried to explain the squat toilet post and summarize the ear street cleaner experience but I wasn’t having much luck with my story telling skills.

Loving your site!


Barbara Weibel June 19, 2014 at 10:25 am

Wes, I laughed so hard over this I nearly cried. My exact same realization came in Nepal when I found myself walking down the sidewalk with a huge water buffalo and thought it was entirely normal.


Lowcost June 22, 2014 at 4:21 am

So cute! It is wonderfull, that people live in a harmony with animals! This photo makes me smile)))


Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 23, 2014 at 10:52 am

Cool story :)


Ed July 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm

And the elephant was thinking, “oh…there’s that guy drinking beer again…must be 5pm…”


Erica July 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I wish 5 o’clock elephants were a regular occurrence in my life :)


Anna July 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I love how traveling completely changes your perspective of the world around you! (Also.. I REALLY love elephants)


Ryan July 23, 2014 at 6:31 am

Ha, short and sweet and hilarious. Good stuff dude. It’s wild what you get used to while traveling long term! Seeing refrigerators on the backs of motorbikes stopped surprising me haha.


Foisal Talukdar July 25, 2014 at 12:28 am

Thanks Johnny. Beautiful picture indeed. I went to Thailand. But never been to Phnon Penh. I wish next trip to be there.


Huong Le July 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

Exciting picture of Thailand giant elephant :X thank you :X have you ever trekk Thai jungle on an elephant . It must be a fantastic memories .


Basilis July 26, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I’m wondering what are you up to… I’m waiting everyday for a new story of your adventures! Come on, give us something to read :)


The Guy August 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Great experience. I just recently came back from India and was blessed by an elephant in a temple! Great fun.

I also love the shoes on this elephant in your picture.


ajay jain August 11, 2014 at 6:26 pm

just shared. on facebook and twitter. :)


linda sorgiovanni August 12, 2014 at 5:04 am

Fantastic Shot! Thanks for the laugh. I can’t believe the Elephant is wearing shoes made out of tired. This could start a new trend!


Adam August 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

I love having “Meanwhile in xxxx country” experiences. It’s one of the perks of our mobile lifestyle!


Sally @ thewinetraveller August 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Wonderful image indeed! I can’t believe the elephant is dressed in footwear created out of exhausted. This could begin a new trend!


Riki Milton August 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Great experience. when i sit on elephant when i go for visiting safari.


leah September 13, 2014 at 10:05 am

LOVE this. I wouldn’t mind seeing an elephant walk by about now… sigh.


Jeff | Planet Bell September 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Ah yes, your life has changed a lot. I have been blessed to travel all over the world, but that would still be very odd for me. Do you now feel reverse culture shock when you return to the USA?


The Scuttlefish October 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

This used to be my life. I grew up in a Eastern India of the 90s, when bullock carts would pass right through town and hold up all sorts of ‘conventional’ traffic, foxes would pierce the evenings with their cries, and the cows would squat pretty much everywhere. But rampant thoughtless urbanization has put an end to all these lovely sights.
Happy to come across your story :)


Muhammad Abdullah October 9, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Ha Ha Ha! Amazing and the way the Guy is acting, seems like its a normal routine for him! Nice!


Peter October 17, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Wonderful image indeed!


Tim November 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

It’s funny what’s normal in some parts of the world … I miss Asia!


Tina February 25, 2015 at 8:34 am

Awesome experienced indeed..