Who knew one of the most exciting moments of my life would have a soundtrack of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” sung in September beneath the hot Thai sun? Yet there I was, riding on the back of an elephant as it crossed a river in the lush Thailand rainforest. And Rafael was smiling beside me as the elephant trainer serenaded us in broken English.
At this point in our journey, we’d already toured the bustling streets of Bangkok, played Indiana Jones in the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, stayed in a real life jungle hut, held giant snakes, met monks, had our breath taken away by Buddhist temples, and even taken a boat ride through a famous floating market. All of those moments felt eternal as they happened. They all left us feeling speechless and inspired with awe, and yet this one somehow stole the show.
We captured our entire elephant ride on video here
“Very good, right?” the elephant trainer asked us with a smile. And it was. Everything about Thailand was indeed so very, very good.
The trainer made us hats out of flowers & leaves he plucked from the treetops as we rode by on the elephant’s back. Then he gave us the opportunity to test our comfort zones by riding on the elephant’s neck (no seatbelts or saddles here, folks… just you clinging bareback to the neck of a full-grown elephant).
I’m so glad I took a chance on that elephant, on Thailand, and on our travel company, Friendly Planet. I will never, ever forget these moments. Rafael and I still travel the world together and we’ve stayed in touch with the friends we met during our Friendly Planet tour.
Every time we hear the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” you know what we think of? Christmas. But we also think of elephants. And a jungle. And a river…