Saturday, June 28, 2014

Phuket Day Four: Death by Elephant Or Something Like That

Today begins with fighting, bickering, crying, and some yelling.  We haven't even been awake for five minutest when it starts.  Someone touched me, someone's not being nice, someone hit me, you can't touch that it's mine.  Agh!

We decided we wanted to go elephant trekking today.  When  I say we, I mean everyone except Carter.  Carter would like to spend the day at the pool and he says that elephants are boring.  He is really moody and is very unhappy we are making him go.  We've explained we only plan on being gone half the day and will spend the other half at the pool.  He doesn't care because he is adamant that this is the worst thing.

With two happy kids in tow plus one sullen almost teen, we head off.  We find Joseph, our driver from yesterday, at the same spot on the rode.  He runs over and tells us he will meet us at the grocery store.  As Bill is trying to explain what we want to do today, he is looking around frantically telling us "No talk here."  Shady, perhaps.  So we meet him at the grocery store just up the road where it is safe to talk.  He agrees to take us to the elephants and waterfall at one of the national parks.

The negotiatining begins as soon as we arrive.  EVERYTHING is negotiable.  A price is finally agreed upon for our 30 minute trek.  We climb to a landing where we will load onto the elephants.  Bill along with Mia and Carter are on the first one.  Ava and I are on the second.  We get on this bench seat atop the elephants back.  We have a pseudo seat belt aka rope that both Ava and I could slip under, and cling for dear life to the side metal bar that is part of our bench seat.

We walk about 3 minutes and then I see Bills elephant heading down a steep embankment into a
river.  WHAT THE??????!!!   I've changed my mind, I don't want to do this, we are going to die!!!
I'm hanging on to the side and to Ava while we are slipping under the rope as our elephant slowly
walks down.  What makes us even more vertical to the ground is our elephant is putting its head down to eat the tall grasses as he/she walks.  Carter was right, this was a bad idea.  It sems like it took forever, but we finally make it down and I see Bill taking pictures of us.  I know I should take pictures of them but I can't seem to release my hand from the death grip it has going on with the side railing.  I now fully appreciate the term white knuckled.

As we trek through the river I see Bill's guide has gotten down from the neck of the elephant where he was perched to wander into the jungle, leaving my family alone on top of this elephant.  Oh he's back now, apparently he found a piece of fruit he wanted to cut down and save for later.  Awesome!  We continue down the river, all the while I'm thinking worst case scenarios, if the elephant freaks out I'll save Ava first.  I've decided if neceassy, I'll grab her and throw her on the river embankment.  She
could probably even  jump, it's parallel to where we are sitting, she'd be fine.  Much better than death
by elephant.  As I've finalized my plans in my head I notice Bill's elephant climbing a VERY steep mountain up out of the river.  You may call it an embankment but I'm sticking to mountain.  This mountain is high and it is steep.  Bill laughingly tells me I'd better hold on, I'm not going tomlike this.  Seriously, those are his encouraging words to me?!  My elephant guide sees my panick and says, "Is okay, is okay, this way, easy" while pointing to a switchback route instead of the vertical incline my family just took.  He was right, easy.  Phew.

We come up from the river into a clearing of grass and tress.  Beautiful.  I'm just beginning  to finally relax.  I can do this, this is fun.  Then I see up ahead, Carter is now perched on the neck of the elephant where once the guide sat.  The guide is now on the ground taking photos with Bill's camera. Next thing I know our guide is swinging down from the neck of our elephant and asking Ava if she
wants to sit on the elephants neck.  My timid girl, who I'm realizing is not very timid, says yes.
REALLY!!!  Bill thought it safe enough for Carter so I'm thinking it will be a quick photo op and then back in the bench.  So I help her slide gently onto the elephant's neck.  Our guide takes my
camera and takes many pictures.  Then our elephant begins walking.  Ava rides bareback or in this
case bare neck almost the entire way back.  Finally I help Ava slide back into the bench seat, our guide climbs back on the neck where he was originally and we return to where we started.  That was crazy!  That was fun!

After we disembark this man comes up and guides us to a cage where a couple of pythons are living.  Great, now they are going to wrap a python around my children.  We survived the elephants and now we aredealing with giant snakes.  Thankfully that wasn't the case.  He did however hold the snakes head near each of my children's faces so we could take a picture.

As soon as we get back in the car, Carter turns to me and says, "That was a lot of fun!  I'm sorry, you were right.  You're always right".   Thank you Carter, and yes I am!  I only had to travel halfway around the world for him to say that!

Further up the road we came to the waterfall we had heard about.  We hiked up rough the jungle about 10 minutes to get there.  We were sweating everywhere, I think even my eyeballs were sweating.  It was so hot and humid!!!  We encountered all different types of bugs, spiders, giant ants, lizards, even a red crab.  Besides the sweating, Ava was having a meltdown because of some injustice caused by Mia of course.  So everyone climbing up to the waterfall that day was lucky enough to hear the cries of Ava.   Just another day in paradise.

Once we arrived back at the hotel Mia and I headed straight to the pool.  Bill stayed with Carter and
Ava so they could serve their timeout punishments.  We swam for awhile and then Bill found a $10 hour massage just next to our hotel.  It was outside, about 12 tables lined up, and I just layer down
not really knowing what to expect.  I had asked for the oil massage and it was heaven.  She did have
me shimmy out of my bathing suit top, but covered me with a hand towel.  The next 60 minutes were pure heaven.  I could hear the ocean waves crashing and I was so relaxed even if there was another man getting a massage a few tables over.  I can't believe it was only $10!  And why did I only find
this on my last day, not my first!!!

We were too tired from our busy day to leave our room or even call room service so we ate granola bars for dinner and passed out at 6:30.  So much for a last night great dinner.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings

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