December 30th, 2007 – by: dfoo
Due to the disappointment of yesterday and not yet being able to explore the island, I finally convinced myself to hire a scooter. Honestly, how hard can it be. With passport and drivers license in hand I was soon the proud renter of a blue beast. I even got a spiffy red helmet to boot. Not that anyone on the island wears them. I must have been the only dork on the island wearing a helmet. As it was my first time on a scooter, I wasn't going to risk cracking my head open like the countless people I hear about on my travels.
After giving Lina a shaky short ride to Lamai
beach (which I think she was glad to get off of) it was soon just me and hundreds of miles of island roads. With not much of a plan besides wanting to see everything before the sun was to set over the ocean I followed the quiet backroads to find myself approaching an elephant trekking park/sanctuary.
Being one of my goals in Thailand to mount an elephant and see the Thai jungles on said elephants back, I carefully parked the beast in the pea size gravel parking lot and tried to negotiate my entry fee to the park. Negotiating with only one person as one would expect is quite hard, and I was unable to get the guy to budge on the price. Apparently I found the only place in Thailand that has non negotiable prices. So I paid the full price of 600BHT for 30mins of elephant trekking goodness. Which might sound a little pricey, but it wasn't as I didn't have to share my elephant with anyone else. I got to sit on a relatively comfy seat strapped to the back of the elephant, whilst the guide was riding on the neck of the elephant. I wanted to ride on the neck. :( To be honest the whole experience was really underwhelming at first.
After you get over the initial elation of riding on a huge elephant, the first stretch of path is mediocre. I was expecting huge expanses of jungle. I'm talking so thick my guide would need to draw out a machete and chop through the dense foliage to clear out a path. But all I saw was little shrubs along a muddy path. Before I could get the chance to yawn, after swaying on the back of the elephant for 200 meters I was greeted with the jungle upon the small hill which we stood on. Whilst there still wasn't a machete in sight, I was happy. This is exactly what I wanted. Greener than green trees, an ox in the distance feeding off the sublime grass and the bluest sky smiling down on us. It got even better. When we got to the flat in the clearing my guide hopped off the elephant and told me to assume his position on the neck of the elephant.
Yes! It was my elephant now. My turn to control the beast. Well not really control as they walk and stop along the path which they do countless times a day pretty much by themselves. Much like a horse ride you go on as a kid. Similarly like those horse rides you try to stay on my squeezing your legs together. One of the things which really suprised me with my change in riding position on the elephant was, how boney the ear of the elephant was as it kept on banging on my legs as it constantly flapped its ears. And also how coarse and hairy the skin of the elephant was. Whilst I was not expecting silky smooth baby skin on the elephant, it was still far rougher than I anticipated. Overall I was thrilled that I got to mount the elephant, although I've been told its much better in Chiang Mai
But I wasn't going to Chiang Mai, so I guess I had to be happy I could do it in Koh Samui. When my 30 minutes were up, I dismounted and immediately check my photos. As I handed my camera to the guide early on and had no control over the photography during the trek, I was eager to see how they turned out. I was suprised with the amount of photos he took. To be honest I was expecting him to be bored with the whole take photos for tourist thing and not bother with too many. But he made my day with the photos he took for me.
Post elephant park, I headed along the same dirt road to follow the signs which pointed to a waterfall further up. Why not. So with my trusty scooter roaring beneath me. I climbed the hill to the waterfall. I was doubtful my scooter had enough pep to take me up the hill, but if other scooters were scooting in front of me up the hill then I was sure I would be able to as well.