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!

Fire Breathing Thai

We spent two months in Thailand seeing wonders of that
great country and waiting for all the proper paperwork to go through. I was
taking my bride home—my home.

To speed things up I had to—through a Thai man versed
in getting things done—buy the police chief of a big city a refrigerator. I
couldn’t believe it either—but it worked. I was slowly learning the ways of the
world but I didn’t care. I was in love with an exotic beauty and our wait was
filled with never-ending pleasures and beauty. I’m talking about Thai food, the
people and the country, among other things!

With my beauty as my guide I saw spectacular beaches,
jungle covered mountains, streams where elephants lazed as they took relief
from the heat, monks receiving alms at sunrise and I never once worried about
what was to come.

Julee didn’t let on but she was terrified to leave her
homeland with the man she loved, not really knowing much about him and where she
was going. Through the years I came to see what a commitment she undertook.
Always brave and my guiding light she is the stronger of us and often lends me
her strength.

We stopped in Hawaii for a week and I had to keep
telling her my home was much different than this place that reminded her of
home. I’m from North Carolina and it was late November. I hadn’t been home for
more than two years and the family was waiting to welcome me and my bride.

We landed at Douglas Airport in Charlotte and in those
days you had to walk from the plane across the tarmac to the terminal. It was
freezing. I felt Julee pull her hand from mine and when I looked, her hands
were covering her mouth. She was staring at me in wonder when I ask what was
wrong. She pointed at my breath as it steamed into a cloud right before her
eyes. She started to say something but it happened to her too and she refused
to lower her hands or talk.

We had no warm cloths so we were both freezing by the
time we made into the terminal and the waiting arms of my family. My mom had
brought us both heavy coats to put on. She asked me what was wrong because she
wanted to see the face of her new daughter. When I explained that Julee had
never seen her breath before everyone started laughing but then hugged her in
welcome. Thank goodness I had talked to Julee about American greetings several
times to forewarn her. Thai’s don’t touch unless they are the best of friends
or parents.

She lowered her hands and was so relieved not to see
the steam pouring out of her mouth and to look upon the smiles that were happy
to see her. My family took her in right from the start and made all the
arrangements for our wedding, reception and meeting the extended family. My
respect grew more and more for my mom and dad.

Over the next month my brother, Ben, and I took her to
see sights she never dreamed of. We went to the mountains and Julee stepped in
snow for the first time. We went to all the malls, movies and everywhere I
could think of to show her this new world.

Now we’re back home in Thailand after more than thirty
years and my little American wife misses the USA. But as always she puts up
with whatever just to make me happy.

I do hope you enjoyed this look into a writer’s life in
Thailand. Leaving comment is a way for me to know you and to know if I’ve
pleased you with my little stories!

If you would like to know about the books I’ve written
please visit my publishing website at http://smallmountainpub.com
Thank you for visiting!