Elephant adventure

When our quadruplets were little toddlers, and my life invoved very little but bottles of milk, laundry and playing random roulette with nap time coordination, I had a frequent and recurring thought.

“when you guys are seven, I’ll take you to India to ride an elephant.”

So they were eight, and this is Thailand, but WE DID IT!!  I’ll let them tell the story:


Tin Tin on rules of riding Thai elephants.

“We all had a riding lesson in the morning before going on our jungle trek. The main challenge for me riding an elephant was sitting up straight and remembering the words. To make the elephant go you say ‘heng!’ To make the elephant stop you say ‘how!’ To turn left, you kick the right ear and say ‘kwe’. It was funny how the elephant went backwards, you had to say ‘toi-toi’ and wiggle yourself forwards and backwards.”


Sparky and her custom-made insert fitted perfectly on the elephant’s seat.

“Riding elephants was exciting and the best. Tintin was clever” – remembering how Tintin held me tight and stopped me from falling off when the elephant kept leaning and trying to roll us off.

And away they go!


Meena – what’s going on?

“As we started our jungle trek we went up a steep hill. Dad was driving, Snowy was next to me and I was on the side closest to the edge. If the elephant fell off the steep ledge, the elephant and everyone would have landed on me.”


Meena on Driving Miss Daisy:

“After we washed the elaphants, I rode my elephant with Mum and Baby Boy back to the farm. It was really fun to drive. It was scary for the first few minutes before I got used to it. We rode on red sand back up a little hill to the farm.”


Time to wash elephants.


TinTin on the finer points of washing elephants.

“It wasn’t just the elephant that was washed and scrubbed; we got washed as well. When I started, I thought my top half would stay dry but once the elephant sprayed me I figured I might as well get all wet – so I did.”


Chris on playing with the elephants:

“Of course elephants are strong. They lug their 3 or 4 tonnes around all day. I was still surprised how effortessly my elephant lifted Meena and I with his trunk up and flung us over his head.”


Final remarks by Snowy.

“Riding elephants is fun and you would all love it. My favourite part was jumping off the elephant and I’d love to do it again.”



Later we watched this doco


“We were really upset to see how elephants are trained. Why can’t people just make friends with them instead of hititng them?


“I hope the ones we rode weren’t hit. I’m glad we didn’t go to see the elephants painting.”

So, it was a fun day, a sad learning experience and a promise finally fulfilled. We won’t ride elephants again, but what WILL we do?


There are all sorts of ethical issues when traveling, how should we go about deciding what to participate in?  How do YOU make these decisions?



Related posts:

, , ,

7 Responses to Elephant adventure

  1. Nina April 6, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    I’ve only found your website recently but I am enthralled by your adventurous family spirit. Your intrepid 8 year olds are learning about the complexities of our world and ethics in the best way possible. I hope your travels continue for a long time.

    • Jill April 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      Hi Nina. Thanks for visiting. I hope our travels continue too!

  2. Ileana April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    We rode elephants in Nepal and later we read about how they were trained, and we didn’t like it. They will train them this way even if we don’t ride elephants. To answer your question, it depends… In Guilin we didn’t see a cormorant fishing show because it was only for tourists. In New Zealand we didn’t visit the yellow eye penguins because it scares them. If the money from my ticket goes, at least a part, to improve the situation, yes, I’ll go. If I do more damage, I’m not going.

    • Jill April 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      Hi Ileana!!

      Yes, even if we don’t ride, the elephants are still mistreated. It’s easy to overestimate the significance of our own actions. I like your rule of them, I’ll remember that.

  3. Deb @ Bright and Precious April 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Wow, what an experience! Beautiful photos. And how brave you were to take your big ‘little’ family with you! I bet it opened their world. I look forward to reading more.
    Deb @ Bright and Precious recently posted..Simple ThingsMy Profile

    • Jill April 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      Hello Deb, thanks for visiting! Yes, the children are having a wild time, learning every day.

  4. Bron May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    I love the photo of Chris and Meena x just amazing. Loving your journey x
    Bron recently posted..NDIS Rally.My Profile

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes