Changs Upon – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #3

May 3, 2008 at 1:18 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Anyone who had been to any parts of Thailand would definitely be able to see elephant sculptures or pictures all over. Elephant, or Chang in Thai, is the national symbol of Thailand. Beer lovers would definitely know the Chang Beer, with two white elephants and a tree as its logo. In the Thai Buddhist culture, rare white elephants are believed to be sacred animals and if captured, must be presented to the king.


Diorama showing Thai kings fighting invaders on elephants’ backs in the past


Elephant seen on murals in temple


Praying to Ganesha, the Elephant God outside the shopping centre in the city.
I didn’t know Thai people also pray to the Hindu God…


Topiary at the museum ground


Paper made from elephant dung… :p


Thai artists were inspired by elephants for their art


Elephant on namecard


Can you see the elephant?

Where we were putting up was quite a happening street at Sukhumvit with many pubs and discos so the lights were quite dim. It was our second night in Bangkok and we were on our way for dinner when suddenly we saw something we couldn’t quite believe…I used the word ‘suddenly’ not because what we saw just appeared out of nowhere but because it was so dark that we could not spot it from far and only saw it when we were like 10 or 20 metres away.

So what was it?

A LIFE ELEPHANT!

Can you believe seeing a life elephant right in the middle of the bustling street in the city?

At first Tisu Boy thought it was a scultpure. But how could a scultpure be placed half inside the shop and half outside??? Furthermore it was not there in the day time!

It was a juvenile elephant. The handler (or mahout) would peddle bananas for people on the street or pubs to feed the animal. It seemed like a normal sight for the locals and even some tourists, probably they had seen it quite often, cos I seemed to be the only one taking video… I had seen live elephants, in zoos and also in Changmai when we visited an elephant camp (shall blog about it later). But to see it on the road was so surreal! This was our third visit to Bangkok but was the first time we chance upon elephant on the street

According to The New York Times report, this had been on going for at least two decades! And I am going to believe it now cos we didn’t just see this for one night, we saw it for a consecutive THREE NIGHTS!


Our second encounter with the elephant…this time, a young male

All the elephants were youngsters, and I wondered where did they come from? How did they ever pass through the main road? Anyone who had been to Bangkok should know the traffic. So did the elephant have to wait in the jam like all other road users? Where did they stay? Even the pedestrian walkways were often cramped with roadside stalls, how did they get pass?

I wouldn’t say I wasn’t pleased to be able to see a life elephant. But to see an intelligent animal doing that for a ‘living’ was kinda sad, not to mention the potential dangers of ploughing through the streets. But what to do? It seemed to be the only way out for the mahouts after logging was banned to save forests. The government had been trying to do something for both the animals and their handlers but obviously it was not very successful. 😦

I hope by my next visit to Bangkok, the elephants would have a better place to call home. Afterall, they are the national symbol of the country. Surely a national symbol shouldn’t be out in the streets begging for food?

Also see related posts:
> Sleepless in Siam – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2
> Natural Instant Breast Enhancement – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #1

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