Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

Road through Khow Yai

                                                                                                                           Photo by Kawpodmd



Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

I sometime take the long way—time-wise- to get back to our little farm or return to Bangkok. We travel over the mountains in Khow Yai National Park. The park has 60 kilometers of a winding mountain two lane road that goes from one side of the mountain range to the other side. The view is a tropical jungle of giant smooth barked trees with orchids growing high in their branches, sloping mountains and raging streams. There’s also a stretch that runs along the ridge tops with open glades where any kind of jungle animals can be seen. Deer no bigger than a dog, Red Stags, Great Hornbill’s standing 2 feet tall, more monkeys than anyone wants to see and the mighty elephants.

Elephants are Julee’s and my favorite. It’s hard for me to imagine something so big living free in Thailand. It only happens in the national parks.

We usually travel across the mountains near sunset because that’s when the elephants come out of the jungle to walk the road to move to a new spot. They’re really smart using the roadway—so much easier than crashing through the jungle. But it’s not often that we get to see them.

We were traveling down the mountain near a cascading river and it was almost completely dark. I saw something big ahead and slowed. It was a massive elephant and she was leading the way to a new feeding ground. I stopped and another car behind stopped 50 yards back and we turned our headlights off but left the parking lights on.

My wife loves elephants but is also terrified of them. By now you probably know I’m too dumb to be afraid.

Out of the dark marched a line of giant pachyderms in a slow easy pace. They were only two feet from the truck as they passed by. To my great delight there were two babies in the middle of the line and their trunks reached out inquisitively to sample everything around. The others kept close watch but allowed them to bounce and play as they passed by.

I grabbed my camera and held it up until my beautiful wife threatened me with her knife-like finger. I started to say something, but that too was taboo. So I settled back to enjoy the spectacle without recording it. I watched a giant’s trunk reach out to examine the back of our truck and that’s when I remembered we had a basket of mangoes fresh picked from out farm. The elephant merely passed on by. I didn’t mention the mango part until we were home. Thank goodness.

To be that close- I had rolled down the window and we could hear them breathe, smell them and hear the squeaks from the babies.  To be that close was something akin to a perfect moment for Julee and me. To her it was more than perfect even in her fear. Elephants have a special place in the heart of every Thai. We see trained elephants often but to see them free is very special.

I found out later from a ranger that the camera trick was—in his words—stupid! A number of cars are damaged every year by elephants merely brushing up against them but with babies—Don’t do that! Lesson learned until my next opportunity. We counted eighteen elephants in the herd and the ranger said that was the largest he had heard of. What a privilege to view them.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this little true story. If you like my writing you should try my fictions. You will enjoy them—I’m sure!

15 responses to “Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

  1. No wonder we get along, Dannie. Elephants are my favorite animals too because they are incredibly compassionate creatures. I rode one in Chiangmai, and though it was a bit scary, they are also very gentle.
    As humans, it is important to always respect them, especially when they can trample us in a second!

    And you are not dumb! Don’t say that! 😉

  2. Elephants are incredible! I love being around them and being in awe. Of course I’m not dumb but I think my lack of fear and forethought sometimes makes life exciting, LOL

    Thank you so much for commenting, Eden. You are a treasure!

  3. Dannie – you constantly amaze me. I’ve told my friends that I had never intended to go to Thailand, but that your stories on the blog have created a vision of it that warrants exploration. Please keep it up. The more about Thailand the better. Love the way you write.

    • Thank you so much, Kathy. It’s good people like you that keep me going. Thailand has it’s problems but overall is is worth a visit. I see new things everyday so I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stories– that and I don’t know how to shutup, LOL

  4. Thank you for enjoying, Laura. If you had had the knife-like finger pointed at you I think you would have changed your mind, lol. One of the few things even I’m afraid of.

  5. What an awesome experience, Dannie. I wish I could have been there. Elephants are such majestic creatures. It’s so cool to have been able to see them up close roaming free. The closest I’ve ever been to experiencing something like that was at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch just outside of New Braunfels, Texas. My first experience there was… well… interesting. I was the dumb tourist who didn’t pay attention to the instructions on how to feed the animals with the provided food. I ended up getting “attacked” by ostriches and even had a Zebra sneak up behind me and stick its head inside my driver’s side window. I got it all on video, too! 🙂

    • Thank you for commenting, Rob. Hey, I’ve been to that wildlife ranch and also had a run in with an ostrich- They are serious about eating. And the wildebeest have the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen.

      At least you didn’t have knife-finger there to protest or is it protect you, lol.

    • It is Roger! So good to hear from you! As soon as I get to my old computer- at the beach I think- for all the pics- you’ll be in one of my post. I still remember the one of you and the tiny guy when you helped chop wood for him. Thanks for stopping by! Give Sasha my love!

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