It happened accidentally actually; some friends and I were cabbing it around the island and they wanted to stop in and see about the supposed 4-hour elephant ride. First of all, something about cabbies is that they take you to the places THEY know, even if it’s not the exact place you asked for. More often then not, they receive a kickback from the location to bring tourists there. Secondly, you wouldn’t want to spend 4-hours on an elephant–no way.
See, when we got there, they had rides lasting 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Kent, who loves to bargain, set up immediately to bargain the three of us onto a couple elephants. I kinda smiled, pinched up, and said sure. Ah, peer pressure–not always about partying.
Once I was on the elephant with my friend, I pretty much squeeked the whole time. The whole ride was ridiculously bumpy and uncomfortable. We kept having to shift our weight around so the chair didn’t slide off, we went down some pretty steep little hills (I was squeeking a bit then; my friend said he thought I was going to freakk out the elephant and buck us off). Plus the manook (elephant trainer) sat right on his neck, and along with controlling him using his feet on the base of its ears, he also used this– an elephant hook.
To see these majestic, intelligent, long lived creatures carrying tourists about, some of them chained up, unable to move very far– I saw one repeatedly feeling the beams of her enclosure; I was pretty bummed about it, and I’m not even an animal person.
When man colonizes an area that was previously wild, they domestic animals that were there. Elephants could cause a lot of destruction to human settlements if allowed to run free. So elephants have been domesticated, hauling logs and such, or, in the case of tourist regions, carting foreigners from point a to point a.
I think the injustice got to me at first because elephants are so smart and intelligent; also, in western culture, elephants are not creatures to be keep in cages, but to roam free. I liken it to the idea of domesticated cats, dogs, pigs, horses, etc, being inconceivable to many other nations around the world. It’s a cultural difference.
But it was still terrifying.