How to Ride Elephants in Laos: A City Girl’s GuideLaos, Wildlife & Animals — By Lost Girls on February 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm
by Perrin Bailey
Special to Lost Girls World
Seven years ago, I awoke in my second-avenue apartment to the jolly musical renderings of twenty-six yellow taxis. The streets flickered like a Pac Man machine featuring two-dozen Pac Men on a Starbucks drip. All vehicles raced towards dollar signs and designer shoes.
To be honest, I embrace both money and footwear with the warmth and excitement of a new mother. However, I waved adieu to them, the sun-blocking skyscrapers, and the soul-sucking cubicle, in order to explore “The World.” I’m a quintessential Lost Girl.
My sister Sarah—another adventurous lady—joined me. There were a few catfights, yes; but we have blissfully adventured through twenty countries on a pint-sized budget. The voyage has bestowed in us a new level of confidence as independent women and as sisters. (Aww, who’d have thunk? We’ve logged it here: www.thesistersbailey.com)One of my favorite destinations was Laos: It’s sunny, serene and easy on the wallet.
Laos is best seen from the back of an elephant, a surprisingly agile animal that can navigate the country’s verdant hills and fresh lakes.
It sure upstages a yellow taxi.
If you find yourself in the elephant stomping grounds of Asia or Africa, hop aboard, and be sure to choose a charitable organization such as the Elephant Park Project.
A few tips for fellow urban jungle gals, below.
1. Ditch your iPhone.
Elephants thrive in hot, dusty climates. The animals labor under hairy folds of inch-thick hide—much like that of my ex-boyfriend. If dressed in a T-shirt, one elephant would produce sweat marks that make Lake Eerie look dry. When an elephant spots a pool of water, he will charge towards it like Carrie Fisher towards a Louboutin sale. Riders and carry-on tech toys receive no consideration.
My recommendation: Carry your PDA instead. There’s always a chance that, “My elephant wet my Blackberry” will excuse you from heeding work email.
2. Practice elephant yoga.
Balance poses a problem for new riders. Balancing atop the bumpy neck of an 11-foot tall pachyderm can spook even the most hardened of skyscraper dwellers. Yoga and strong abdominal muscles top the list of stability solutions.
Over-worked career women who have been sleeping through Down Dogs in yoga classes: Simply treat the mahouts (elephant trainers) as your new instructors. Observe and repeat as they secure their knees behind the elephants’ ears. Suspend your legs across the elephant’s neck. When peering over the mountainous mammals, inhale deeply, holding each breath for 4-5 counts.
Elephants enjoy a good conversation and trained ones understand language. Check local lingo for useful phrases such as, “Turn left,” “Please don’t do that,” and “Thirsty? I brought bottled mineral water!”
4. Rediscover full-length, low-budget pants.
Compared to elephant skin, tree bark is baby-bottom smooth. Make no mistake: an elephant excursion does not double as a leg exfoliation treatment. Protect your skin with pants measuring with the thickness of a New York bagel.
5. Forgo adoption.
Elephants top the list of World’s Heaviest Animals. They weigh in at 11-thousand pounds on average – the equivalent of nearly three yellow taxis.
On the upside, elephants have a slimming effect on those who pose beside them. This is your chance to look truly petite! (I held an immediate photo shoot.)
On the downside, these peaceful mammals carry, in their adorable padded feet and jolly swinging bellies, the power of life and death. Resist the urge to coddle a Dumbo look-alike, because his protective mother administers justice with a flick of her trunk.
Ready to ride from your cubicle to the jungle
If your looking for a charitable way to earn bonus miles for your own safari adventures, why not earn bonus miles by donating to elephant rehabilitation efforts like www.elephantvillage-laos.com. Proceeds from these, and riding excursions by similar companies, help return real-life Dumbo’s to their natural habitats.