Monday, June 23, 2014

Riding elephants in Thailand under martial law

By the time we landed in Thailand, the political situation had deteriorated into a full-blown coup d’├ętat. We - that is, Nick and I - knew what we were getting ourselves into, but I’m not sure we could have fully understood the land or the climate that we were in.

Speaking of the climate, it was really hot. I packed a pair of jeans and three long-sleeve shirts that never saw the light of day. If I learned one thing from traveling to Thailand at the end of May is that shorts and tank-tops are standard – luckily, they can both be bought there for an insanely cheap price.

When we first landed, I had the familiar feeling of cultural confusion, which is to say, it was not familiar at all. I had lived in Asia for well over a year and had been to other countries, but the simple process of buying a subway pass was as foreign to me as when I had first moved to South Korea. Needless to say, we eventually made it to the hotel at around 8pm on Thursday.

The problem was that the Thai military imposed a 10pm curfew throughout the entire country. We were a little disheartened, at first, but it soon became clear that the curfew didn’t apply to the tourist district of Bangkok.

That being said, we tried our best not to abuse it. We had early morning plans for Friday and didn’t want to miss out on the awesome opportunity we had planned. This opportunity was the chance to see a more rural and exotic side of Thailand. 

The day started a bit too early for my taste, but we had a lot of traveling and activities to do, so it was worth it. The first stop of the day was a floating market. Pretty much you jump in a boat and use it as a shopping cart. The only problem is that you don't really have a say of where you stop (the elderly Thai woman in the back of the boat decided that for us) and the vendors can be a little relentless. I ended up buy chopsticks - which I definitely didn't need - and some saffron - which I now regret not buying more of. Also, a guy threw a gibbon on my shoulder and threatened to throw a snake in the boat if we didn't pay him. 

After the floating market, we headed to the bridge over the river Kwai. It was an old bridge that was once very important. Now it is a symbol of Japanese oppression in Southeast Asia during WWII. Thai people remember all those who died in its construction, but I was thinking about the movie I saw when I was like 12 years old. Note: if you haven't seen the movie, the whistling at the beginning of the video posted below is from that.

But then, as we made our way a few hours to the west near the boarder with Myanmar, we finally arrived at our destination. In the middle of the jungle, we climbed on the back of some elephants and went down to the river. We were told we were going to give them a bath and I expected someone to bring soap down to us. Instead, when we got into the water, the elephant started acting like it was some kind of mechanical bull or that he suddenly didn't want anyone to ride on his back anymore. It was intense, but incredibly fun. We horsed around in the water for about a half hour and then had a more relaxing ride through the jungle for another 45 minutes or so. 

I could tell you some of the other things we did in Thailand, or about some of the people we met, but it really doesn't compare to the above experience. Check out the video below and let me know what you think!


  1. This is great! Love hearing from you Mr. K. Keep it up!

  2. LOVE IT!!! Keep it up Max hun! Follow your heart and dreams absolutely EVERYWHERE my love!

  3. So glad you are blogging again!!! It's about time!!