Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bathing Beauties

It's bath time again and the volunteers try to get to the river ahead of the day trippers in order to have at least five minutes of peaceful and enjoyable time with the elephants. I get to throw a few buckets of water on one of the elephants but the day trippers show up sooner than planned and the commotion and chaos suddenly begins. Sabine and I and our other volunteer friends have decided that we will no longer participate in elephant bathing time, at least not when the day trippers are here. Honestly, when I look at the elephants, they barely seem like they are enjoying it. Sabine and I find that we prefer staying on the 'beach' anyway because when the elephants leave the water, they end up walking towards us. A few of the elephants are definitely starting to recognize us and they walk right up to us in all their slow and gentle giantness and then just stop right in front us of with their heads inches from ours.

Here is Mae Perm, waiting for her trunk to be rubbed, her eyes gentle and relaxed.

Blind Jokia, Mae Perm's adopted sister, follows closely behind also waiting for some gentle hands to touch her. I am finally getting used to seeing the eyeless side of her face without thinking of her past. Now all I can see is a beautiful content elephant who has found comfort in her new surroundings. Jokia does the cutest thing sometimes when she is not sure where to go (because she cannot see) but doesn't just want to stand. She ends up sitting, almost like a dog, but it looks exceptionally cute seeing a five ton animal do this.

Once Jokia and Mae Perm are content with their rubs and socializing they head back to the fields together.

Ken, one of the mahout managers, comes over to talk to Sabine and I for a little bit. He is very nice and funny and patient with the mahouts he oversees. We take a moment for a photo op :)

The eles seem to have a lot of itches today:

Some quick cuddle time for Faa Mai and Mae Bua Tong.

Hope loves bath time, he is actually smiling; elephants do smile when they are content.

Can't forget Jungle Boy, who's presence is always a little softer than Hope's.

Here is Chang Yim doing an excellent job being cute... He's heading for his mud bath, where the water is warmer and muddier... every toddler's favorite!

Chang Yim's mother, Dok Ngern, is close behind.

A perfect sunny warm day for bathing.