As I have said before, the point of travelling is not to find better Jiu-Jitsu out in the world, but instead to discover the world and all it has to offer the human experience. It is just fortunate for us living now that we can do this without giving up our ability to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!
Last year, when living in Rio de Janeiro I passed up a few opportunities to experience things (like hang gliding) due to cost and within months came to regret it. So, one of my goals for this year is to do more things, see more places and maybe accept that some thing are worth the cost.
We went with an outfit called Khao Lak Land Discovery and we very happy with how the trip went overall. They picked us up around noon and we headed out to the Khao Lak State Park Elephant camp. On the way there our guide gave us the low-down on the elephants.
Apparently, hundreds of years ago, local farmers began domesticating elephants as work animals. One farming family would usually have one or two elephants to help out on tasks around the land. As these elephants bred with others (and since elephants stick together in herds) the farmers elephant pack would grow over time. Over hundreds of years the elephants became domesticated and unable to live on their own in the wild.
As the elephant family grew, the farmers would not be able to care for them and so the elephants would either be killed or eventually starve. It is at this point that the State Elephant camp steps in. Some while back the folks who run the state parks decided to rescue these elephants and – flash forward – they now have a strong, healthy population of about a dozen elephants of varying ages (including a new baby born on Christmas day!). In order to generate the income to care for the elephants, they gave them a NEW job: give rides to people for money instead of hauling lumber or breaking down trees!
The trek consisted of riding with the elephants into and back out of the jungle (not a long trek…maybe 30 minutes total) and then taking a swim and helping to bathe them in a small pond back at the camp.
The experience was truly amazing! These giant and gentle creatures seem to be completely happy just having a stroll and ESPECIALLY having a swim (where they can cool off and take a load off of their legs!).
This trek cost us about $50.00 each (blew our budget for the day…but hopefully it works out over time 🙂 ) and was well worth it.
On the way out of the jungle camp we stopped at a roadside diner for lunch. The diner was located on a small cliff overlooking a river. You could hear the river and a waterfall just beyond the trees that formed a sort of wall at the back of the restaurant. After eating a delicious meal of Chicken Massuman we decided to head around back and hike down to where they told us we would find a waterfall. A short hike down a moderate trail and we found a gorgeous swimming hole at the base of a small waterfall. I took a quick dip to get out of the jungle heat and humidity (it is around 31c here on any given day) and the water was brisk, to say the least but provided a welcome respite from the heat of the day. After twenty minutes or so chilling in the waterfall we headed back up the trail and into our waiting ride back to our guesthouse.
All-in-all, this is the sort of thing that one travels around the world for. I imagine it can be pretty easy to fall into comfortable habits like drinking at the bar where they serve american beers and play american music, like I see a lot of folks doing, but I would ask you….What have you done? You’ve traveled half-way around the world to do the things you could have done back home? Perhaps it is just warm weather that some people crave and not the joy and excitement of new experiences? I guess I couldn’t say. I would only give you the advice to “go for discovery”! Try something new, do something scary (climbing up on an elephants back wasn’t the most nerve-calming thing I have ever done 🙂 ) Hopefully you will find it as rewarding as I do!
Oss and until next time…Good travels!