In November last year we visited the yearly elephant round-up festival in Surin, Thailand. We started up with the big elephant buffeé-breakfast Saturday morning, we did not really know what to expect when 269 (hungry) elephants are entering town.
Already on our way to the down-town fountain where the fruit table were ready, we met many elephants on it way up to the railway station, where the parade started. While we were waiting for the elephants to arrive we were entertained with different cultural performances.
Then finally the elephant parade was entering. Favorites was the 3-years old twin elephants.
There were three of them from the beginning but one died. Still, very unusual with twins, so they were the festivals mascots.
And other favorite was the “white ” elephant”, but when getting close to it I can tell it was a lot of make-up to make it look white and shiny (half of the make-up was left on my T-shirt after hugging also this elephant).
And then the fun started – at least for us. Now it was time to mingle and feed the elephants. The idea was to have people on one side of the table and the elephants on the other side, but then you could not get close enough for hugging all of them, so we kept in the middle.
And it was literally in the middle – I found myself between two adult elephants, who wanted to great each other with their trunk, and I just had to do the best to not be squeezed in between them. Taking a step backward was also dangerous, since it “always” was a new elephant entering from behind.
Mahouts with younger elephants sold some additional food, for 20 baht we could feed them, and after that it was free to mingle, hug and take as many photos as you like. There were also mothers with small babies, and it was fascinating to see how relaxed the mothers was among all the peoples, and the small baby was tied up to the mother and followed her happily all over. The youngest we met was only 6 month old, and it is quite cute feeding the mother while the baby elephant is discovering me with its trunk, suddenly I have a small baby elephant-trunk in my arm-pit.
But after a while, what gets in has to get out again, and then being in the middle (or worst case behind) the elephants was not that much fun!!!!!
On our way home, we suddenly thought it was stinking elephants all over. We could see any animals, but realize soon that the odour was form ourselves. It was also possible to ride on the elephants, or take a “elephant-taxi” as the mahout said. Next year (or another year if we will re-visit) we will join the parade from the railway-station and downtown main breakfast area.