After the toy museum we hopped on our bike to go to the “Elephant Kraal”. ( What is a Kraal you ask? Back when Ayutthaya was the capital city. They would capture wild elephants and bring them to the kraal and the king would select the ones he wanted)
We got to the Kraal and there was a couple of statues of elephants and a really big white wall (at least 9 feet high). This can’t be it… can it? So I convinced my family to just ride around to the other side. So we did. We rounded the corner and rode down a dirt path to which we saw… ELEPHANTS! real live Elephants. I have seen elephants and even pet elephants at the zoo, but this was different. This was unexpected. To our left there were elephant walking around a very large enclosure, in front of us was an elephant washing station and to our right was the nursery (elephant moms and their elephant babies.) There was a a little building in the center of it all. While we stood there a man came up to the bathing station with an elephant. The interaction between the two was amazing. He never raised his voice or acted aggressively toward the elephant. The man then asked the elephant to lean down so that he could scrub his back and the elephant would kneel. The man gave the elephant the hose so that he could drink some water and splash around with it for a bit. I was memorized, I was unable to turn away until the man took the elephant away.
We waited for a few minutes for someone else to arrive, but no one did. We investigated the building and there was no one really around. There was however a table, on the table was a large donation box, several baskets of cucumbers and a sign that read something like 150 baht for a basket of cucumbers and the right to take photos. My Aunt and I dropped money in the box and my cousin took photos.
I don’t know if my words can convey how much I enjoyed feeding the elephants. The elephants would trumpet for us to come near and give them cucumbers. Their long trunks would do their best to grab at the baskets. All of the Elephants were behind gates, except for one baby and his mama. This baby was so curious. She would use her trunk to rifle through my bag, sniff me, go through my pockets, pant legs and investigate me. After a minute or two she wrapped her trunk around my leg and tried to pull me toward her mother. I of course told her mother, what ever mother likes to hear, what a beautiful and sweet baby she had. I handed over the last of my cucumbers and spent a few more minutes with the moms and babies.
I have every intention of returning and seeing if my friend remembers me. Her name is WangChang Thai.
(The place we stumbled upon was Elephant Stay.)