Riding Elephants in Luang Prabang, Laos

That’s me riding an elephant somewhere near Luang Prabang in Laos. I was told that he doesn’t look as big as the elephants you see in a zoo because he used to be a work-elephant who carried logs all over the country.

Now the poor guy is made to carry silly tourists who’d like to have an “I rode an elephant” photo.

Whether this is considered a demotion in the elephant world, I do not know. Do the other elephants jeer at him saying “Belat, he’s only carrying people now”. Or do you think his tourist work improved his social status and that other elephants want to follow his footsteps?

It would be interesting to know, no? Unfortunately, I’m not versed in the language of elephants so he ignored me when I asked him about how he felt carrying tourists. Hehe. [Maybe he was saying, “Keep your dirty unwashed feet off my shoulders! You, overweight human being, you!”]

Anyhoo, probably the most remarkable thing I learned about elephants during this ride is this: Elephants can freaking climb mountains!

When the elephant guide started leading us up the mountain slope, I went, “Hey! Are we supposed to go there?” I was nervous, to be honest, but I also saw elephant droppings on the trail which assured me that these huge animals do go up that mountain.

So wonder no more why our Asian neighbors place a very high value to their elephants; they can carry loads as big as a tree and, despite their bulkiness, they are good mountain climbers too. I don’t think they can climb really steep slopes, though.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to visit Luang Prabang to see the age-old tradition of giving early morning alms to Buddhist monks. It is an amazing sight to see hundreds of monks as they walk on the city’s main street (which was closed to traffic) to receive the offerings of locals and tourists. I’m not sure how long they’ve been doing this (maybe hundreds or thousands of years) but it is interesting to see a city that sticks to its past.

Luang Prabang is a spiritual city. You’ll be reminded of this by the countless monks in orange robes and the many monasteries around the city. The city is also noted for the French-style architectural buildings it was able to maintain and which earned it a place in the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.

Because of its charm and the many things it offers to visitors, Luang Prabang is bursting with tourists. They’re all over town and they’re from all over the world. Expectedly, this opened good economic opportunities for the locals who run hotels, restaurants, bars, and travel agencies. It also created a market for pimps.

One of my guides who brought me to the elephants intimated that he can also bring me to an establishment which male tourists visit at night. A friendly local I keep bumping into was more direct when he said: “Do you want to see a pretty Laotian lady?”

12 Comments
  1. Hi Ping-i,
    Hehe. I can understand if elephants go that route. I only hope no ones riding them when they go amok.

    G,
    Yeah, it was fun. But they had to push me up the elephant because of my fatness 🙂

  2. One of the duties of monks in Las Vegas (as was related to me), is they are hired every now and then by the catholic diocese to count the many casino chips donated by churchgoers….so they were called Chip Monks!
    Wink! wink!

    Cheers to the weekend. Be on a few days break.

  3. If these giant animals are groomed and fed well…I don’t think they’ll go bananas at all. Same with humans. Heck, they get tired too; and who really knows the amount of weight they shoulder for hours of the day? Well, just a thought.

  4. Hi Lolo Trublue 🙂 Wehehehe, Chip Monks!

    Long time no see (read??) ah. Ang cute naman, apo mo yan?

    In one animal show where they make elephants dance and play ball, and hoolahoop, I saw a big male elephant that was so bored, and its actions was like saying, “Ano ba namang buhay ‘to, oo! Ilang taon ko nang ginagawa ‘to ah! Wala man lang bang professional development dito?” 😀

  5. Ganda: yes, he’s three years old now and I’m his sidekick. He hears “okisnana” from me every now and then one day he blurted “okisnana grandpa”! Wink2x!

    Cheers!

  6. well what can i say it’s a very very nice blog all in all! i’m new to the blog world and been really dying to read from fellow CAR people and i’m so glad i have come across blogs from you guys!
    all in all i love the blog!
    keep it coming…
    and oh well about that elephant i think i wont dare to ride in one of them baka mag alburuto maikdag ak dat na gatinan sak-en! hehe

  7. Bill bilig,
    great to know you had the elephant ride in Laos, Had my first in Chang Rai years ago. wished to have gone to Lauang Prabang, only was able to reach the capital of Laos. would like to go back sometime

    regards

  8. Wow, Bill Bilig, galing naman nitong blogspot! Gusto ko yong labels and of course the writing. How nice of you to talk to the elephant- am sure he understood so sana nagthank you ka. I hope he (or she?) won’t get osteoporosis kasi lightweight ka compared to logs ( or are you heavier?). You see, weights make bones dense – as in, sedsedena.

  9. Belated Happy New Year to you Bill, and to your devoted followers. Hoping for a much, much better than year than 2013. Cheers!

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