Elephant No. 41 – Ayutthaya, Thailand

Me and my elephant friend

NB: this post was actually written in December 2015 as the last elephant on my South East Asia trip. However it has evaded publication up til this point!

The highlight of our day trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya was certainly the discovery of this elephant centre. Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand, and Christine and I visited it on one of our final days in Thailand, just before I flew home. The ruins were also interesting but unfortunately very much still in ruins after having been razed by the Burmese in 1767. In its day it had been one of the foremost cities of the world, but it was quite hard to imagine the place in all its former glory, especially as it was a baking hot day and we were perspiring greatly as we biked around the various temples (before finding an amazing smoothie-juice bar).

We decided not to take a ride on the elephants as I’m never quite sure about the ethics of elephant rides for tourists, but we did buy a basket of food, and had a great time feeding (or having food stolen by) several of the elephants. For an interesting discussion about elephants and tourism, do check out this post. Though the author of that blog decided to give the Ayutthaya elephants a ride, I think it’s an issue that it’s very important to be aware of as a tourist visiting a country that has elephants, so if you do decide to do it, at least you know what you’re doing. I got a bit of a behind-the-scenes insight of the elephant industry in my time in Rajasthan in India in 2011, and after having been appalled by what was going on (exploitation of both elephants and humans by one very selfish man in search of huge profits), I decided not to ride any more elephants unless I could be quite sure of the situation. That’s probably enough elephant-preaching from me for one post…



Elephant No. 27 – Angkor Thom, Cambodia


Look what I found in Cambodia! I think this is the first living elephant I have met in a long time (far too long!). The encounter took place just outside Angkor Thom, and it was a happy moment.  (more…)

Pandas of Chengdu

Possibly the highlight of our trip so far, we came to Chengdu to see the pandas and we were not disappointed: we had one glorious, panda-filled day.    These pandas are part of China’s flagship panda breeding programme, which aims to boost the number of giant pandas in captivity before starting reintroduction programmes into the wild. As such, we learnt more than we were expecting to about the various methods that the vets have for impregnating the pandas – the vets being rather keener than the pandas for this to happen!  (more…)