Sunday, 5 February 2012

Elephants and Kickboxing

Thursday was Lee’s birthday, the big 2-8. To celebrate, we went on an elephant trip, which included feeding, learning to command, riding and cleaning. I tried to be brave when it was my turn to get up on the elephant, but it was really scary. The Mahouts (elephant trainers) made it look so easy. Simply give the command for the elephant to lift up its leg, then grab onto its skin, step on the leg and hop up onto the neck. Easy right? It took me a few goes, with no less than three tiny Thai men attempting to heave me up there. When I was finally positioned on the elephant, I could hardly believe how high up it felt. Much further than it looked from the ground! I was certain I was going to be thrown to my death at any moment. The mahouts were shouting commands for me to practice, but all I remember shouting were the words ‘No!’ ‘No!’ and ‘Scared!’
Lee was so good and managed both of his turns really well. I felt like the biggest wuss in the world, especially as we were with a blind guy who rode and commanded the elephant with ease and grace. Alex was a young man from Belgium, on a trip with his Mum. I didn’t know right at first that he was blind-because really I wasn’t expecting it on this trip-but there were lots of indications, such as that he kept his glasses on all the time, and his Mum filled up his plate for him at lunchtime. It really was amazing how easily he did the elephant thing. I can’t help wondering if maybe I would’ve been less scared if I couldn’t see…
I’m ashamed to admit that I sat on a bench on top of the elephant for the ride through the river, with Lee on the neck. It was far more enjoyable for me that way, although it was still damn scary! The greedy elephant kept sticking his trunk in Lee’s face every ten seconds for a banana. At one point in the journey we came to a water pipe that ran high up over the river, although not high enough for me to get under. I had to flatten right down, essentially doing the limbo from the top of an elephant.
It was great when we washed the elephants in the river and the Mahouts commanded them to blow water at us from their trunks. I got soaked, and don’t even want to think of what infections I might’ve picked up in that swampy water.
The Belgian guy and his Mum had told us during the day that they are going to Siem Reap next. When we got back to our hotel I commented to Lee over beer that I thought Angkor Wat was one of those places where it would be a really shame not to be able to see. I mean, obviously being blind in general is no picnic, but the amazing views from the temples were the best thing about being in Siem Reap.
Lee looks at me quizzically.
“What are you talking about? Who’s blind?”
It transpires that he spent the whole day thinking Alex just really liked his glasses and that he was just a 22 year old guy being babied by his Mum.
Well that certainly explained why, when a Mahout climbed up on the elephant with Alex on the first try, Lee shouted, “Why does he get extra help?!”
In the evening we went to a Thai kickboxing match. Like the big girl that I am, I really just wanted the fighters to stop and settle their differences over a nice cup of tea. I did get into it as the rounds when on though. The best part was the ‘special fight,’ about halfway in. I knew it was going to be good when the first, slightly overweight fighter climbed over the side of the ring, tripped over the rope and fell flat on his belly. What an entrance. As if this fight was sent as a present just for me and Lee, the six fighters were made to put on blindfolds! It was brilliant. Some highlights included one man knocking out another then tripping over him; several different fighters unwittingly beating on the ref; and one guy just getting up from the floor, only to be met with a glove to the face, sending him straight back down again. The ref, after receiving his fair share of punches, obviously decided he’d had enough and used the rope to launch a flying kick at one of the men. The special fight really was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  

All in all, a truly great day and a birthday that I'm sure Lee will never forget.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment!