I could feel the supple strength of his muscles between my thighs. He was blindingly strong and tossed me around like a kitten. He was big too. Absolutely massive! I can't remember the last time I had felt something like this, it scared me. But I was eager for more. His skin was rough and dark and smelled of the jungle. His hair, black and prickly and scratched my hands when I grabbed on to him, as if for dear life. And then I rode him.
Ok, you pervy people! I'm talking about my elephant! Where's your mind? Can I help you retrieve it from the gutter? So yes, it does sound like a Harlequin romance but I swear to God, all the words written above are true.
Just outside of Luang Prabang, Laos there are a plethora of elephant camps where you can ride them, bathe them, or learn how to become a mahout (elephant trainer). Some are reputable and some not so much, but whether you like it or not, they are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Laos. I chose just to ride one on this trip but I didn't choose to sit on the loveseat on the back of the beast, I chose to ride on his neck.
Now, one may think that this is a simple and amusing way to ride but I can assure you, it's pretty difficult. With every step the animal takes you are twisted in the opposite direction. Every time the animal casually looks to the right, you are flung to the right along with him. His moves are not as graceful as when I saw him from the ground. Or maybe it's just me who lacks grace.
To start, how you board an elephant is that you get on a platform which is about 3 meters off the ground. On this platform is food for the elephants and tourists snapping away with their cameras. As the elephant was munching away, I hopped on his neck and straddled him. I tucked my knees behind his ears and hung on for dear life. We hadn't even left the platform and I was already wondering what the hell I was trying to prove. There's no reins to hold on to, only his head which is prickly with stiff hair. If you bend down a bit you can grab on to the tops of his ears, but it's not a stable position to be in. On this day, I was working my core and inner thighs. I was feeling the burn after only five minutes. Oh, and you're high off the ground. Like, if you're afraid of heights this might not be for you. For me, it was more incentive to cling on to him ever harder; thighs don't fail me now!! And God help you if he decides to eat. Leaves and branches grazed my face as he chomped down on his "salad". I fed him a few bananas from the top of his sweet head and it was pretty daunting to see a large wet snout sniffing about, looking for the bananas in my hand. Giving them to him was pretty cool though, he gently took them from my hand and shoved them in his diamond shaped mouth and quickly flung his trunk back up to me looking for another.
After about 15 grueling minutes I got used to his movements and stopped screaming like a little bitch. That was an accomplishment in itself. After the 45 minute ride I hobbled off of him, barely able to walk. I smelled of elephant stank but wore the biggest smile on my face. And I just can't wait to do it again!!