Going to Thailand, there are some things that you would want to cross off your list of authentic Thai experience. For me, one of them was to meet an elephant up close, possibly give them a bath and feed them. Riding an elephant was never near my agenda as this practice is not beneficial at all to these beautiful creatures. Although, historically, they were used as beasts of burden and even a live action tank (I was schooled by travel buddy about the participation of elephants during wars) – the truth of the matter is, I wanted to interact with them in a more intimate way.
The Royal Elephant Kraal Village in Ayutthaya is home to more than 60 elephants and has deep historical and cultural value. It was where the King used to see and choose which elephants were going to be used by the villages and the palace to do specific tasks. The elephant trainer, aka the mahout, then starts training the elephants. One can see just how essential the elephants are in building Thailand.
We were set to meet an elephant that I could meet, touch and feed. They weren’t sure about the bathing part but I had my swim gear just in case. We traveled down the river and on to the banks of the village. We were made to wait in the boat, which I found really odd. “Are we getting off? Is someone coming on? Why aren’t we moving?” Our guide just smiled. Then, coming in from the corner, a big beautiful elephant walked in and headed towards us in the river!
OMG. She was getting in the water!! Where our boat was!!! I almost fell out the boat, trying to get as close as I could to the elephant. She (I assumed she was a she and they confirmed this later on) was so beautiful and playful and even swam next to me and gave me a trunk shake!
But what’s better than one elephant? Two. Two elephants!!! I met a bull elephant who was very manly in pink and seemed to appreciate my sense of humor. We then walked into the village and met even more elephants!!! We had the opportunity to feed Lakshmi (the first elephant) and meet the baby elephants in the compound as well.
The Village also offers a volunteer program where you can stay in the village and care for the elephants. The Kraal is home to retired working elephants or elephants that no longer work for health or other reasons. Volunteers or visitors can stay and care for these elephants for a couple of days. Check out their website for more details.
Mobile: +66-806 687 727 or +66-871 163 307 (Outside Thailand)
0806 687 727 or 0871 163 307 (Inside Thailand)
Office hours: 9am – 5pm
Royal Elephant Kraal Village
74/1 Moo 3, Tumbol Suanpik
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya