True story. Here is my favorite picture from this past weekend, when my fellow WorldTeach volunteers and I took a road trip to the Elephant Round-Up in Surin (on the southern edge of northeastern Thailand, near the Cambodian border):
I thought he was just going in for a hug when all of a sudden his trunk was suctioned to my cheek! After the initial surprise, I was again caught off guard when he made a big SMACK as he let go. I have to admit he was a messy kisser but being my favorite animal and all, I let it slide.
Here’s a snapshot of the actual “round-up” inside the auditorium. The performance took place on a grassy field, perhaps a soccer stadium. Over 250 elephants attended the round-up, returning to Surin from all parts of the country to participate in this annual celebration. It was an amazing sight to see!
Below is a view of some of the elephants’ tricks. Most of them have been domesticated since birth and are extremely talented in all sorts of activities. On the lower right you can see an elephant painting a t-shirt, and to the left another is hula hooping! There were also dart-throwing contests and balancing acts. Incredible!
My favorite part of the show was the last scene, which re-enacted a historically significant battle for the people of Surin. Below is a picture of the two lead elephants adorned in their battle gear. It helped that there was battle music blasting from the loudspeakers. Think “300.”
The most challenging part of the day was making our way back to our van, in the midst of trucks, food vendors, tourists, locals, and most importantly, the largest land mammals on earth! Here I’m careful to keep my distance as I try to catch up with the rest of the group.
As you can tell by my enthusiasm, our weekend at the Elephant Round-Up was excellent. I have more pictures on my Flickr account to the right so check them out when you have time.