Friday, October 12, 2012

Calling Thailand: The Elephant Training Center, Chiang Dao

On our third day at the Chiang Dao's Nest, the ten of us huddled tightly into the bed of a pick-up truck, headed off to The Elephant Training Center in Chiang Dao. You can read more about them here.

We saw a fabulous elephant show which included watching them bathe and work (logging). One of the highlights was watching an elephant paint a picture. It was fantastic! We bought one of the sweet paintings.

But to get to the show and see what was pictured above, we had to cross this:

This suspension bridge might not seem like a big deal to you. It was long. It was high above the river, and it was made from bamboo and rope. Oh. And when you walked, it would swing, swing, swing and sway, sway, sway and bounce, bounce, bounce.

My stomach went boom, bleurgh, blah.

I am afraid of heights. Very afraid. Mostly, I'm afraid of falling. Terrified, even.

It wasn't a good situation. Everyone had already crossed the suspension bridge. They were watching the bathing elephants. I had to cross. And everyone had a perfect view of this:

An obese woman, feeling weak from the squits (sorry: just a fact when you travel. Shit - literally - happens), psyching herself up to walk across the stupid suspension bridge. 

The only thing that made me move was knowing my daughter was on the other side. Waiting. We had talked about this for months. Seeing elephants. I wasn't about to let her down because I was petrified.

I shook. All the way across the bridge. Heaved deep breaths.  And by the time I was on the other side, I was crying. I don't know what came over me.

I mean, I've been scared of heights for a long time, but I didn't think it would bother me as much as it did. I was a mess. And people were staring. Great!

I managed to calm down and enjoy the show. We fed the elephants bananas. Yes. I even hand fed some of those god-awful fruits to the elephants. (Read how I hate bananas here and here.)

It was great until it was time to go back. I had to cross that mean, teetering suspension bridge again.

My sweet, dear, kind, and indulgent friend, D, stayed behind with me. We let everyone else go ahead. She was sensitive enough to know how embarrassed I was, so we tried to make it so we were the last ones leaving the camp.

D walked behind me, chit-chatting away to keep my mind occupied.  She reminded me not to stop, because when we'd stop, the bridge would swinnnnng and swayyyy and I would clutch my - err, um, large - stomach and bend over in ready-to-wretch mode.

It didn't take long for the shakes to come. Uncontrollable ones. And tears streamed down my face.

Still, with my lovely friend's help, I made it across much more quickly than I did the first time around.

In the end, I was proud of myself. I pushed through my irrational fears and screaming emotions. I told them to f*-off (sorry - all this suspension bridge stuff is making me crabby!), and plodded on through. Just. Just. Just.

But. I made it. And I did it. And I was proud.

Next post: will be a hello upon returning from our lush holiday within Myanmar! I'll give you the inside scoop on where we went and what we did. 

The next time we revisit Thailand Calling Series, I will tell ALL about our elephant trekking ride!


  1. Wow, what an adventure this was. I can imagine how you felt about that bridge...yikes! Becky, your writing about these travels is awesome. You are doing it, out there writing about the spaces and places many of us will probably never see.. it is eye opening. Thanks for sharing it with us. June Maddox

    1. Thank you, June.

      I was super scared. LOL I'm a wimp, I know, and I also realize my fear was baseless, but...I guess some just are.

      I feel happy and very grateful that you're enjoying reading these posts. And if you ever come to SE Asia, you have a place to stay!!

  2. very nice article on elephants..but there r still traing centre of captured elephants?


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