It is on many people’s bucketlist, but I did it. Do I feel good about it? No, not really. At this moment many travel agencies even banned it: riding elephants in Asian countries. At the time when I did it, it was ten years ago and no one really realised that the elephants are not always doing okay, being used to get cash from tourists. Looking back at it I feel very bad about it.
On the other hand though, what I saw was that people were treating the animals with respect, but obviously you never know how they act when they are alone with them. I sat on the back of an elephant, or I rode an elephant I guess I should say, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was my first big holiday to Asia and I was superthrilled. The holiday was amazing, and me and my parents (and the rest of the group, who I really became friends with) had a blast. On this beautiful rainforest-kinda location we went for the ride.
The skin of an elephant is really hard, so you do not really feel like you are on an animal, until they make sound or they really move, hihi. My elephant was the first in line I think, and it felt amazing to be the leader of the pack. I thought it was such a great experience to be so close to a huge and pretty dangerous animal, but again, now that I am older and because of the news around it, I know better and I feel bad about it. I purposely do not go to Sea World because they have killer whales, and after my safari in South Africa I do not really like zoos in general.
There are still a few things on my bucketlist that have to do with animals though. I still would like to swim with dolphins, though it is very cliché. I would carefully check the place I would do it: I only want to swim with dolphins in the open sea. And I want to ride a camel in Egypt, though it is a bit tricky going to Egypt right now I understand.
Other than that, I try to not bother animals too much. In South Africa I did not ride an ostrich even though we could, and if I ever finally go to Australia I do not think I will have my picture taken with a koala bear. I mean, I would love to, being so close to an animal, getting to know what it feels like, what it’s body temperature is and cuddle it a bit, it sounds amazing, but I just do not want to bother the animal, it should be happy and it should live a natural lifestyle. Human beings do not belong to that.
So yes I can cross off the good old riding an elephant, but am I proud of it? Nope.