Elephants are one of the world’s most gracious animals. Throughout history, we learn of the injustices involuntarily thrust upon the species ranging from when Jumbo the elephant was around to current conflicts involving ivory from their tusks; it seems as if the world never stops to consider how the gentle giants are actually treated.
Joshua Platts, a young brit seeking something more from life than he already knew, set out to Thailand for an adventure that would forever be embedded in his memory. The frequent flyer tries to travel internationally at least once a year. His time in Phuket, Thailand, lasted a total of ten days. During his time there, Josh was able to see Big Buddha, visit the Phi-Phi Islands, scuba dive, and enjoy not only the beautiful but breathtaking views from the beaches of Thailand.
Before getting to ride an elephant, Josh was given the option of bathing and feeding an elephant. He believes a contributing factor as to why they allowed this was to reassure their customers that their elephants were not only taken care of but happy with the care taken. While playing with the elephants, Josh learned how inquisitive the species truly is, describing them as always craving human interaction. Josh also mentioned a distinct side of humor tied to the animals’ curiosity.
The path Josh and his family took was through the pre-paved jungles of Phuket. Making sure to pull out all the stops, the company Josh rode with was sure to have their elephants show the people a few tricks, having them spray water after feeding it to them. After paying no more than 300 USD per person, Josh’ walked the plank’. With no training process other than a guide describing the experience as just like riding a horse, Josh walked over to a wooden plank that aligned wth the elephants’ back and hopped on.
Many elephant rides will have the maximum amount of people on an elephant be two people; however, if you were to have a small child, they could accompany you and another adult.
Having an elephant to himself granted Josh the ability to stop to look at everything, “the skies, trees, insects. It gives you such a beautiful sense of needing to look after what surrounds us.” Through his gained introspection, Josh felt like he was gifted an understanding and appreciation for the Thai people, culture, religion, food, and just about every other walk of life there.
The ride lasted a generous hour and a half due to the elephants stopping to munch on surrounding shrubbery as the group continued. Josh looked back on his memory fondly as he spoke of his time on the clear woodland path. He said the casualness of it all reassured him that the animals got treated nicely.
It’s always important to note that as good as things can get, they can always get worse. Eager to share his experience, Josh took quickly to Instagram, where he documented his fantastic adventure. One photo showcased a walking elephant in chains when the animals were free to roam in all resting areas. From his post, the internet took over, forcing Josh to delete his post and understand the intentionality of false narratives noting, “Some people who are against the actual not cause, but the activity of riding the elephants will share misinformation of people beating elephants, making it seem more common when it’s just isolated incidents rather than try to understand it better. The money I pay helps take care of the elephants, going directly to the sanctuary.”
After going on what one may consider a major ride of his life, Platts described Thai culture as welcoming, chaotic, and respectful all at the same time. From seeing food trucks selling tarantulas to hearing Thai music and prayers throughout the city, Josh described Thai culture as a ‘gorgeous and rich’ one to experience. He acknowledged some difficulty in communicating with locals due to a language barrier but said once they figure out what you mean, they’re more than helpful.
Platts, a past electronic dispenser, is currently spending his time in the United States working towards his dream of working at SpaceX. He claims to be happier than ever. With more and more experiences acting as notches to his belt, he’s always eager for his next ride.