like a giddy kindergarten kid, i was pretty much excited to ride on an elephant. i pictured myself sitting like a queen on the elephant’s back, the smiling gray mammal strolling through the jungle, wading through shallow rivers, trampling everything and everyone while i watch the sun set on the horizon.
what i didn’t expect was that the elephants were black. not gray. that shocked me a little because dumbo is gray. and he doesn’t have sparse ugly hair on top of his head. also, it was disappointing to learn that the ride would take only about 15 minutes and we would not be going anywhere near a freaking jungle. instead, we were at the foot of a dusty hill and all the elephant had to do was to take us to the top.
so… did i enjoy the elephant ride on our way up to phnom bakheng? well, of course i was initially psyched but the thrill lasted for only two minutes. because after that, i was mostly preoccupied with the fear that the 30-year old elephant we were riding on would topple down the cliff or would go wild from exhaustion. other times, i felt sad for the elephant doing that kind of job. and then there’s the guilt of supporting that form of elephant exploitation by voluntarily paying $20 just for the experience of riding one. i hoped they would give dumbo a nice, warm bubble bath with that $20 because he sure stunk! hehe.
the path the elephant had to take was quite narrow. the other side was a mini-cliff so it was making me kind of nervous, the way he was walking/swaying in a bored and clumsy manner. but that nervousness was nothing when we had to share the path with another elephant going down the hill! (think two cars squeezing inside one lane.) the safety freak in me was at its heightened state. in my head, i was like, “just one false move…”
but we survived. somehow the elephant got us safe and sound up into phnom bakheng (bakheng hill). the experience was worth it but i don’t think i would want to be riding elephants again soon. one time’s enough, i guess.