2010-06-20 -- Chaing Mai

What a fun day! We rode around on elephants and slept with tigers!
(and then we went swimming, but you probably guessed that by now.)

At the Elephant Training Center Chaing Dao we fed elephants (by hand), watched them get a bath, saw a little show of how they used to work in logging, then took an hour-ish long ride on them through the jungle.

On the way to the elephants, we drove past Tiger Kingdom (just a warning, all the pics they show on their website aren't actually possible in real life), which sparked a bit of interest among the boys, and so we had to stop there after the elephants on the way back to the hotel. What fun! Tiger petting!

Dad tried the "Fish Actually - Fish Therapy and Spa" (ichthyotherapy). He reports it was the weirdest thing ever, and the range of expressions proves it. It's a big tank that you put your feet into, and a bunch of Garra rufa (aka Doctor Fish) chew off all the old gunk and whatnot.


Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/80 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Thierry meets the elephants, or perhaps its the elephants that are meeting Thierry.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/125 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Dad feeds the elephants. Yes, we can feed the animals here....if we buy the food for them...at all of a whole US dollar (or 20 baht whichever you have).



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/100 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Elephants are hungry.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/125 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
It was fun watching them eat. They'd grab the food with their trunk -- I'm not sure if they squeezed it or used suction -- and then threw it into their mouths. I imagined them placing it in, or at least holding it near while the mouth bit it. Nope, it was literally tossed in the mouth; mouth wide open, trunk curls around and tosses the food in.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/50 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
On the way to their bath in the river. Testing the water to see if it is the right temperature.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Step one in bathing, fall over. Steps two through four were, I thought, recorded as video on the Canon 5D, except to record video on the Canon 5D, one must use the button that one usually only uses to set menu options, not the normal shutter release button as one would expect. Thus, I shot a whole lot of really fun video of elephants blowing water over their backs (and the mahout) all without actually recording a whole lot of really fun video of elephants blowing water over their backs (and the mahout). Sigh.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Step two in bathing, keep falling.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Step three in bathing, keep falling.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Step four in bathing, keep falling.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Step five. Elephants really don't fall over quickly.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 55.0 mm; 1/50 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
Next, after bathing, was a demonstration of how elephants were used for logging. They pulled, pushed (with feet), pushed (with head, as here)...



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 73.0 mm; 1/125 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
...and lifted...



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 58.0 mm; 1/50 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
...and carried...



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 58.0 mm; 1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
...and stacked...



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/160 sec, f/8.0, ISO 200
...and...painted?!?! Painted?? Yup. An elephant painted a picture of flowers. Dad bought it. It was fun to watch. She grabbed the brush in the trunk, drew some wavy green lines for stems, then blotted some grass, then ever so carefully blotted the flowers on to the stems. That was the amazing part, you could see her looking at the painting and placing the brush just above the stem. Amazing creatures; really really strong yet able to apply gentle enough pressure to paint (I'd guess the 'canvas' was placed on a solid piece of wood.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 28.0 mm; 1/40 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
After the show, we climbed on top and went on a walk. Most of it was up a narrow stream, the worst (looking) part shown here. The elephant never stumbled, but occasionally he stopped to look or backed up and tried again.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/500 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
The mahout sat on the elephants head, using his ears as foot rests. We got a not-so-comfortable wood chair with a seat belt. The seat belt was used a LOT.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/160 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Exiting the elephant.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 82.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/6.4, ISO 800
Steve and Thierry emerge from the forest on their elephant.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 35.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
The twins bought hats.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
At arms length, looking down. We've got our feet on the elephants back, and are holding on for dear life to the side of the chair.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/80 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
I took thirty-ish pictures at arms length like this; the camera just wasn't wide enough to get both the elephant and our faces....



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
....so you get two photos instead. I'm hugely distorted being close to the lens and near the edge, and Dad is wondering when I'll quit....



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II at 16.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Better? Not really.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 84.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
The elephant walk ended with a stroll up the river. Renee in front, Steve and Thierry in back. Our elephant threw a fit upon entering the water, stopping, roaring and growling. Oh, yeah, we could hear the roar (it echoed, too). We could only feel the growl though.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Not really the elephant toilet; the elephant loading/unloading dock. The toilets are to the right.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Contemplating the rafts.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 50.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
On the raft.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 80.0 mm; 1/800 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
The raft occasionally bottomed out, and hit the edge of the river, and took hats off, and...



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 35.0 mm; 1/500 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 24.0 mm; 1/640 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 28.0 mm; 1/1250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Theirry showing his powers of command.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Ichthyotherapy, not for the ticklish. The next pictures were shot over a span of about one minute.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 67.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 67.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 67.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 67.0 mm; 1/25 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/15 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Dad did pretty good, lasting about five minutes. It wasn't really painful, just ticklish, annoying, pins and needles like your feet fell asleep. "The worst was when they'd get between the toes."



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 50.0 mm; 1/50 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
The little ones were definitely the cutest.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/200 sec, f/2.7, ISO 400
But they didn't want to do much, just lay there.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/30 sec, f/2.7, ISO 200
They got a whole lot less active when humans got in the pen. Well trained?



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 70.0 mm; 1/100 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
This gal was just out of it.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/80 sec, f/2.7, ISO 80
With the little camera I could stick the lens through the chain link fence.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 20.2 mm; 1/60 sec, f/5.0, ISO 400
And get a really tight zoom on her face.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 24.8 mm; 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 80



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 40.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 50.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Tiger by the tail? Whatever, I was happy just laying there.



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 90.0 mm; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 92.0 mm; 1/320 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800



Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 105.0 mm; 1/125 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
Tiger feet. After our group photos (none posted here, because they were all terrible poses) the handler took this just before giving the camera back. Not sure if he always does this, or was just inspired, but it's a nice shot -- better had he included the face...



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/30 sec, f/2.7, ISO 100
A blazing sunset at the Four Seasons in Chaing Mai. I sure do wish I had the wide angle lens with me tonight.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/10 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Caprese of tomato, mozzarella, mango and rocket salad with balsamic dressing.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/5 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Home made ravioli filled with parma ham, buffalo mozarella and tomato sauce.



Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/6 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Ravioli up close.



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