Riding Elephants in Thailand. Every 80 year old’s dream.

I told you a couple of weeks ago about how when I, my mother and my two sisters went to Thailand we all tried to allow everyone else their “thing”. Whether they wanted to look at jewelry or antiques or lady boys. We all did it without complaint.

Except me.

I complained. I complained the shit out of this one thing.

I didn’t want to ride an elephant. I wanted nothing to do with the elephants. Elephant tricks made me sad and once when I saw an elephant being forced to play with a hula hoop I cried and got mascara on my tee shirt which then made me angry.

Angry the way a free roaming, intelligent animal must feel after being held captive and forced to play with out of date toys.

And I made my objection known. I was dragged against my will to the elephant sanctuary. That’s right. It’s a sanctuary where elephants roam the jungle and surrounding river. It’s a massive jungle filled with massive, happy elephants.

But still.  I wasn’t convinced.

The sanctuary is a money making venture with the elephants working in the morning (work consists of eating bananas fed to them by visitors, taking a bath in the river with their human trainers and then giving anyone who wants a one hour ride through the jungle.

I arrived at the elephant sanctuary with my arms crossed over my chest and my lips pinched. By the time I left my arms were at my side and I was smiling. I was satisfied the animals were treated well and were happy.

I was happy, my sister Fish Pedicure Pam was happy, and Betty?  Betty had the time of her life.

You might not know this, but elephants are big. Big like large, not big like chevrons a few years ago.

Pink tool belt and I were pretty cool about it all.  Elephants?  Sure.  Ride em all the time.  Mainly through the jungle.  We usually have flying monkeys holding our capes behind us, but whatever. This is fine too.

Karen And Pink

So even though my heart was in the right place, it turns out I was wrong about this particular venture and perhaps I put up a fuss for no reason.  I have no problem admitting when I’ve made a mistake.

It just goes to show you.   Things can turn out completely differently than you expect.  The elephant ride was a great adventure with a good time being had by all.



Scared On Elephant


Or at least by Fish Pedicure Pam.  Remember when I said Betty had the time of her life? I didn’t say it was a good time. She was probably overreacting. She was kindda drunk. Betty was kindda drunk for most of our trip.

If you squint your eyes and focus mainly on Pam’s maniacal  smile, you barely notice the 80 year old woman crying on top of the elephant.


Elephant Ride Before

Judging by her grin, it’s possible Pam thought she was actually being gifted the elephant by the people of Thailand.  And judging by my mother’s face … she thought the same thing.


Want more STUFF like this?

Get my posts emailed to you daily.



  1. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    I know you claim that you had a great time in Thailand but between the fish pedicure, the millions of stairs if you forget sunscreen, the prohibition of tasting street food (which I totally support BTW), the 24 hours of puking and other things, and your and Betty’s look on the elephant ride….I am not sure I believe you. It’s not exactly a travel journal worth of the Bureau of Thai Tourism. Having said that though, I am REALLY enjoying all of the travel stories!

  2. Hahahahah, great picture of poor mama Betty – what a good sport!

  3. Teddee Grace says:

    Actually, your little elephant looked rather happy. I think that’s a smile. He had kind eyes.

  4. Barbara C says:

    I would LOVE to ride an elephant but only in a place that cares for them! I’ve always loved elephants I think more than any other animal, well maybe my kitties come first. I would love to know where you went to get this elephant ride? One day I hope to travel to Thailand and do the exact same thing. It’s been on my “bucket list” like forever! Enjoying your site, look forward to your daily adventures!

  5. Wisconsingal says:

    Glad to find a fellow animal lover. I love animals, often more than people. And, elephants are highly social and have deep emotions and deep attachments. I would have felt the same as you did, both before and after. I’m very glad the animals were treated well.

  6. Susan says:

    I’m struck by how much you and tool belt look similar, and your mother and Pam look similar. I’m so sorry Betty was so miserable. Was she afraid, or just felt badly about riding an animal?

  7. kelli says:

    Between you and your sisters’ puking, Betty crying on the back of an elephant, and the fish pedi (with Pam having the exact same face as ‘elephant Betty’) I don’t think you’ll be able to forget this trip, even if you tried!

    Such great pictures…really amazed at how ‘spitting image’ you and ‘Pink tool belt’ are to one another, and Pam is the spitting image of Betty, wow!

    Have you ever had – or would you ever consider having – your sissies and Betty do guest posts on TAODS? :)

  8. Mandy says:

    bahahahahaha!!! So great, thank you for that :)

  9. Rondina Muncy says:

    What amazes me about this trip is your legs. Where the heck are the mosquitoes? From what I remember about Vietnam—-they do have mosquitoes over there. I assume that Thailand is also swarming with them but I don’t see giant red bites.

    I’m glad the elephants are happy. Circus animals make me sad. But I feel the same way about dogs that don’t get daily walks.

  10. Jeannie B says:

    Fabulous post! And fantastic photos! What a great experience for you all. I’ve never seen an elephant up close, so it’s very interesting to hear these personal memories. I didn’t know about elephants cooling their ears with “stomach water”, didn’t know that elephants have hairs on them, two inches apart and like wire, and had never thought about their prominent backbones being very uncomfortable to sit on. They are such amazing creatures with long lives and great empathy for each other. Did your elephant have a name? He or she, looks relatively young.Did you look directly into the elephant’s eyes? No doubt, he or she will remember you.

  11. Lynne says:

    I took my niece and nephew to the Lion Safari park many long years ago and the three of us rode the elephants. African elephants are huuuuuge – and we rode that beast bareback. The three of us were perched on the back of its neck – we didn’t even get to its back. t never realized my hip joints could rotate out that far – it was like doing the splits (something I hadn’t attempted since I was a kid). LOL.

    One thing about riding bareback is that you come in contact with elephant hair. It’s one of the things that makes you realize just how big those creatures are – the hairs are spaced about two inches apart and are like wire. It’s not comfortable – even with jeans on let me tell you it’s akin to sitting on a wire rug.

    That said – it was one of those things I wouldn’t have missed. I haven’t been there in so long I have no idea whether they still offer the rides.

  12. Ruth says:

    Those short blunt rods in the guides’ hands? I’d like to know what they’re used for…. to clobber unruly tourists into submission? Or the elephants? Hmmm…

    The look on Betty’s face… priceless! I do believe your sister of the fish pedicure fame found it hilarious! LOL!

  13. Jake says:

    I love your Mom, (not in a creepy way) I wish she would adopt me.

  14. Mary Werner says:

    You are my first post to read every day – I start off well! I also HATE circus’ that humiliate wild animals. I also don’t know how to spell circuses. Redo-I also HATE a circus that humiliates wild animals. They loose all their magnificence. When you all get old, what tales you can tell – or if you forget everything, you can just go back and reread your posts while sitting around a fireplace and Betty is toasting marshmallows.

  15. Patti says:

    LOL!! It’s so funny how Tool belt and Fish pedicure look so happy and you and your Mom … not so much. I would frame both of those and hang them together. What a great memory!

  16. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Love these stories…what an experience. Funny too!

  17. marilyn says:

    betty not only looks amazing ,she is amazing!

  18. ~JackieVB says:

    Looks like the elephants are living large in Thailand, glad to know it’s a nice life for them.
    So, when can we look forward to this post on lady boys – or is it antique lady boys?

  19. Sally A. says:

    How does one get on the elephant? Or for that matter, down? Oh wait, you don’t get down off an elephant, you get down off a goose! I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.

  20. Karen says:

    Wow, what a scrapbook moment! Betty’s my hero!

  21. Tigersmom says:

    Fabulous. Just fabulous. Everything from Betty to the napping elephant guide to getting on an elephant after food poisoning.

    So, whose “thing” was it to ride on the elephant? The only one who appears blissed out by it is fish pedicure sister.

  22. Barbie says:

    Oh bless your soul! LOLOL
    Betty should frame that picture and hang it in her living room!

  23. ruth says:

    Betty just can’t be 80. She looks amazing.

  24. gabrielle says:

    Don’t know if anyone will be doing this soon, but watch yourself if you coose to ride a camel in the middle east. When the trip is finished, the camel lies down for you disembarking FRONT LEGS FIRST, then back. The prepared will then brace themselves against being launched over camels head!

  25. kate-v says:

    When they were very young, I took my oldest grandson and granddaughter to the fair. They had an elephant there and we could ride him/her and get our pictures taken on the elephant. It is like riding on top of a hard ridge – it felt very insecure and I was terrified one of the children would fall under the beast – he/she really was HUGE!!! But we got through it fine and didn’t have the heart attack I thought I’d have. but when we tried to tell anyone about it little Amanda would speak right up and tell about the ride on the ‘effident.’ Not so cute now, all these years later, but it was then.

  26. Angela says:

    We got back from our trip to Thailand just over a week ago and we LOVED it!! I think our hotel in Phuket was just up the coast from where yours was, we were on Bangtao beach. We had a blast on our elephant trek, although we went to one of the places where you ride directly on their backs instead of on the bench thing. My 5-year-old rode with my husband and my 11-month-old rode in a carrier on my back. I was terrified that I would lose my balance and fall off, squishing my baby, but everything turned out fine! I’m attributing that to the Hail Marys I said during our trek, easily over 100 of them.

    Check out our photo site at ajminear.shutterfly.com to see our pics, especially the ones of my adorable kids at the beach. One loved it, one hated it; hilarity ensued.

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Yeah..I would try that..I might have to be kindda drunk though..

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      By the way..you look kindda nauseous there..

      • Karen says:

        I would take offence at that comment Nancy, but as it so happens this was the very day after I had been throwing up for 24 hours! So I WAS nauseous, lol!! Both Pink Tool Belt and I were NOT feeling well, lol! ~ karen

  28. Mindy says:

    Laughing out loud. Real life is friggin hilarious. Love it.

    • Karen says:

      Ain’t it the truth. Also did you notice the guide is napping? He napped for most of their one hour tour. No wonder my mother was frightened. ~ karen!

  29. Katie says:

    I rode an African elephant once, a year ago. It was awesome, and I had a wall-to-wall grin the entire time…but I will say that they left a few things out of that darn brochure. For one thing, I was way happier about it than my husband (no saddles on these suckers…and let’s just day that the elephant backbone is not designed for male…ahem…comfort. Ahem. Ahem ahem.), and I was glad to be wearing a sunhat. You see, elephants cool themselves by spraying themselves in the ears with water they’ve stored in their stomach. Elephant food stomach water. All the time. All over their enormous ears, and anybody else that might happen to be sitting between them. Hence the hat’s importance.
    Do Indian Elephants do that?
    Anyways, I’d do it again in a heartbeat…but how they treated them is SUPER important.

  30. Melanie says:

    Pretty much the exact same look Pam had when fish were eating the dead skin off her feet!

  31. Maureen says:

    Wait, you’re not wearing a chevron-printed sweater, right?

    • Karen says:

      LOL. No. Those would be polka dots. I think anyway. ~ karen!

      • Amie Mason says:

        How are you not melting in the sweater! Surely your face should have fallen onto your shirt!

        Yes – not a fan of the Elephant rides either. But I am glad I have done it once.

        • Karen says:

          The elephants are just outside of Chiang Mai which is northern region, which is a bit cooler. Very light sweater was to help protect against mosquitos/malaria/dengue fever. Although my legs look like they might have been a tiny bit susceptible, lol. ~ karen

  32. Ella says:

    I like how you are referring to your sister now as “Pink tool belt”! HA!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Seed Starting Calculator

  • About Karen