Elephants

I left home in July 2016. I first went to Australia where I have friends but in January 2017 I moved to Cambodia on my own knowing no one and in reality quite unprepared for life here. My friend, Jeff, almost immediately suggested coming out to visit and so about eight months after leaving Suffolk, a friend from home arrived. He wanted to walk with Asian Elephants which still live in the fast disappearing jungles of Eastern Cambodia. We set off on a lunatic 1500km road journey. On the way we saw rubber and palm oil plantations and the evidence of recent large scale forest clearance. Cambodia seemed scorched and ravaged but finally in the higher lands pockets of jungle came into view. Misty Mondulkiri is under siege but still retains some wonder. There are several rival elephant sanctuaries in Mondulkiri and how wonderful it would be if they were working together. Sadly each is busy proving their credentials by badmouthing the other providers. However this did not blunt my childlike excitement at seeing an elephant wandering through the jungle with a mahout or handler close by. We fed this first elephant bananas but were warned that she was not sociable. Down by the river we found two more elephants and they were far less reserved. My bananas were taken in the trunk and fed into an enormous mouth. It was both scary, brilliant and slightly sad to see these creatures who, before sanctuary life had been terribly mistreated. After lunch and a very comfortable siesta in a hammock, we found a waterfall and bathed with the two more sociable elephants. I can’t say I’ve seen elephants in the wild but I’ve seen them up close and I’ve seen them doing their own thing. I was lucky to  do this and even luckier to share this with friend.

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