Ping Pong & I
Where do I begin/To tell the story of how great a love can be/The sweet love story that is older than the sea/The simple truth about the love she brings to me/Where do I start
With her first hello/She gave new meaning to this empty world of mine/There’d never be another love, another time/She came into my life and made the living fine/She fills my heart -Andy Williams “Love Story”
Really, it’s a good question: Where do I begin with this one — to tell the story of a brief, but intense affair?
Her name was Ping Pong (not kidding) and she was somewhere in her 40s (female elephants live to an average of around 80). As I mentioned in my last post, Victor and I decided to go visit some four-legged friends. Since I had seen animals treated and exploited in all sorts of ways while living in Asia, I made sure to do some research. All Lao Travel‘s elephant mahout lodge was recommended and all of the elephants there have been rescued. Our guide told us that many of them were used in illegal logging operations and horribly over-worked. Elephants are amazing animals. They are so large, but at the same time all of the ones we spent time with had a gentle quality about them. So it really is heartbreaking how some people treat them.
The days of hard labor are over and these days they give silly tourists rides and the silly tourists feed them bananas. At first Victor and I rode in a howdah (fun new word), a platform seat with railing and canopy. We went through the woods with our guide steering the elephant and each of us giving it a try too. Later on in the day, it was time for a more solo ride. We stood on a platform and the elephants walked up to us and we slid right on, no seat or anything. To be honest with you, my thighs hurt a bit the next day — sitting on an elephant requires a bit of stretching before and after. Our guide grabbed my camera and off we went.
We walked to the river where our buds were schedule for bath time. As it turned out, Ping Pong knew the command for splash and it was a trying time in our relationship:
After about the third time of the guide yelling the command I was soaked, but he was amused and kept on saying it…
Meanwhile, Victor’s elephant didn’t know the command, so she contented herself by sinking into the water.
After a good bath for us both, we headed out of the river.
After saying a long goodbye, Victor and I returned to the river and we kayaked back into Luang Prabang.
Ping Pong, if you are reading this, I hope you are well.