Episode III: The Phuket Factor

Ok well I am kinda buzzed right now... but here's what I did today... I had a great time, riding the waves in... 75+'F water, I showed those eastern Europians what is was like to be from California (that's Bob Murphy for teaching me to surf)  I was body surfing, had a crowd of people watching me, ( I guess they don't do that on the Baltic Sea) then I got a Japanese guy to give me his boogie board.... too bad I didn't have any picture of my barrell-roll (thanks to Kenny Shure for teaching me that move in Ocean City, MD 10 years ago!)  It was a lot of fun.

Then I went out and rode some elephants..... you know ... all in a days work.  Well here we go:

This was my view just prior to getting on this beast... there were about 10 of these little fellas running around waiting for me to stick my petite ass on them.  They were surprisingly gentle... this one grabbed my head when I was walking up to him... one of the guides says its an elephant mating ritual.... (in different words) so that made me a little nervous to sit on this 40 year-old elephants back!

Well here I am .... spotting one of the last remaing species of the Ng Gana Bird... one of Thailands last indigenous carnivourous marsupials.... This elephant had to take me and my guide up a half mile of 45' terrain... poor boy... he kept honking and swatting me in the back of the head with his tail when he got tired...  I don't blame him.  Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that second course at dinner.  Whenever the elephant would stop, the guide yelled, "Nah Nah" and smacked him square in the forehead with a club.... then the elephant tried to reach around for him, swayed his hips to try and knock me off then kept going.... When we went down hill, the guide would sit with his legs under his ears... to get the elephant to keep going he would no-so-gently kick his ears.... weird eh?  I thought so, but it was cool nonetheless.

I have ridden horses, but this thing was amazing, his name was Pu Pang... not really sure what that means... but it probably means, big as a house and proud of it.   Elephants are not the most comfortable things to ride on, but it was amazing the terrain they could cross over.  This boy walked up a 6' rock piling about 3' wide... I had to duck the branches.... This was pretty damn cool.


Here is Mr. Pu Pang showing his good side... I have to admit I have a fear of large animals.... last time I was on a horse I almost wet myself... this time I did, but the elephant seemed to enjoy it. (Just kidding)... The guide got the elephant to lower his head by yelling at it and smacking on the head with a club with a spike at the end of it.... ouch... it looked like it hurt but I am not 16' tall with a 7' skull either.

I thought this was a cool picture.... this was when we ( I should say the elephant) took us up the 1/4 mile uphill trail... its wide here, but it got down to a couple of feet soon thereafter.... maybe the size of a hiking trail.  I was amazed this thing could get through.  You can see the guide here with his feet positioned under the ears of the elephant.  He would kick the bottom of his ears to keep it moving.  Why a 10 ton elephant would obey a 50kg man still bewilders me, but alas it did.

Ok, a lame scenery shot from the top of the mountain the elephant so kindly took us to.  This overlooks Patong bay, where my hotel was located.

Back at the ranch, we see a baby elephant or Cha (Thai for elephant) in the making.  This is 1.5 years old, and by the time its 10 it will be carrying overweight tourists up that same mountain.  You could pay 20 baht (50 cents) for an banana and feed it... it was quite well behaved .... after I took this photo, it tried to take the camera off the table... he is not so coordinated yet, and dropped it... now it doesn't work right.. (Todd, I will need to get this one fixed, it doesn't turn off!)

Here is me at a German BierHaus entertaining the locals...  I used the pad you see in front of me to write a few postcards to boys they met and befriended here in Phuket... They could speak english ok, but they could not write...   I felt like a scribe from the ancient days....  I got a couple of free beers for writing them, one was actually in German -- I think I got it right....

Well thats the end of another day.... I am going to an Island called Ko Phi Phi (Pronouced Ko Poo Poo) tomorrow.. hopefully I will have some good shots from there.... See ya'll!!!!!!

-Mr. Kyle X.

Next: http://www.freesoft.org/kxh/phuket2.html