Our second day in Laos was one of the best days of my life. Mum and I went on full day Mahout Experience at Elephant Village in Luang Prabang. I love elephants, but am always torn when I see them in captivity as they often seem sad (or worse sick and mistreated). The Elepehant Villiage was completely different to my past experiences… the elephants looked like they wanted to be there. A German man runs the place and rents the land of the Laos government. The elephants roam free, but because of their bond with their mahout they want to come back every morning. There are only 9 elephants and they all look healthy and happy, with a vet on site permanently. The village also buys food grown by local community to provide business for them and employs local guides. Basically, they elephants seemed happy and I was very happy.
The day started with a standard elephant ride where we sat in a basket and rode through jungle and in a river. Mum and I were on a young elephant named Mae Pua. She is only a teenager and as such was a little temperamental. Mum and I had an adrenaline rush when the little elephant started trumpeting in the river and gong for a roll when we were on top, but all went well eventually and we continued our stroll.
After a delicious buffet lunch with a view of the Nam Khan River we began our mahout training. We had to jump onto our elephant learn commands in Lao and steer our elephants… basically I sat their said strange words, nudged with my feet and the elephant still went into the elephant hospital to chow down on hospital food.
After we learnt some commands apparently we were ready to “drive our own elephants” (so to speak) and wash them in the river. This was one of the best feelings of my life. I traveled from terror to joy in such a short time and I think photos will have a better chance of describing this experience than words ever could.