Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Returning to Chang Mai on the 8th we booked into the Anodard Hotel in the old town because it was closer to the center and cheaper and better rooms than BMP. We decided to do an elephant mahout training camp for 2 days and one night.

Woodys Elephant Training was chosen as it was recommended by Vern and Jo after their day there.( Website
Ph +66 815315363)

This is a family operation with only 8 elephants making it somewhat more personal. Woody picked us up at 8am the following morning and we drove north  for about an hour to the property. On arrival we were issued with elephant training clothes and hats and then instructed in elephant training language. We had a number of basic commands to learn before we could get started. Next we were introduced to the elephants and given mount and dismount lessons. No saddles an no stirrups so all about leg lifting and leaping and clawing your way aboard. Ears are a useful hand hold and the elephant, if inclined, and if you get the command right, will assist with some foot and knee raising maneuvers. Next was lunch. All the meals were sumptuous Thai Style but with consideration of western palates. Not too spicy but you could add your own to taste.
Mahouts for two days.

After lunch the 5 of us climbed aboard, 2 per elephant, and rode up the hillside to a lookout where we dismounted, that's polite for skidded and slid off ungracefully, to chop sugarcane to feed the elephants.  Here we swaped mahouts and we headed to the river to scrub and bath them. We all got soaked doing water fights, them with noses and us with buckets. After a good scrubbing and splashing about we climbed aboard again for a real underwater swim in the lake. This time the elephants went completely underwater with us on top!. It was tremendous fun and plenty of squealing and fooling about was had by all, especially the elephants.The end of the day involved feeding and chaining them for the night prior to our own feeding. After dinner we joined the real mahouts around the fire and tested some local delicacies from the fire then checked the herd and retired thankfully to our beds. Our room was splendid. No camping here!!. A huge room with en suite. Very early morning we arose to be involved in more bathing and scrubbing then breakfast for us and them. Then it was one by one all the herd had to be taken down to water to drink and only 3 tourists here now.
Great white hunter having a fat time!

The second day progressed in much the same way but with a little more experience under the belt and the elephants becoming more familiar, it became obvious that a week or so would be a lot of fun and there would be some chance of actually controlling the animal yourself. The "real" mahouts were never very far away when we were "controlling" our animals. There were no seats or saddles though so it was all bareback on the neck. Awesome. The best part of the trip and even David enjoyed it.!!

We went really swimming under water. That's David and I on the disappearing elephant in the middle!
After our elephant farewell we were driven back to Anodard Hotel.  We relaxed round town for the next couple of days, enjoying the galleries and shops and food. Time comes eventually to consider heading back to Taipan in Miri. On the 12th we headed to the night train again to go down to Penang. Two nights !! Enough about trains! We had planned to go on from Penang to KL by train but gave up and caught a flight to KL and onward to Miri, arriving on the evening of  the 15th. We had been away a month but will need to go back again one day to see all the things we missed.

More Photos of Elephant Training