Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

In The Company of Greatness

I’m feeling a bit unwell at the moment; unfortunately my humour has hidden in the cupboard to escape the fever. While I recuperate, here’s another tale about one of the most amazing travel experiences I’ve had to date.

Last year I was lucky enough to travel to Japan and Singapore with most of my family. One of our destinations was Bintan Island, a beautiful tropical escape a short ferry ride from Singapore. While we were there, I met an elephant.

These creatures are AMAZING

I’m a big fan of animals; I wanted to be a vet or zoologist after high school. Unfortunately, my lack of foresight through high school led me down a different path (for which I am not ungrateful mind you) but that path led me to this most noble creature on that particular island.

It happened not unexpectedly. My Dad had already mentioned that elephant rides were available on the island and, along with my brother I had agreed to join him for an exciting walk with these noble giants. We headed to the park where they lived and soon we were standing before them – three magnificent grey behemoths, dressed with colourful triangular cloth headdresses and with light quilted saddlecloths on their backs.

The guardians of the elephants welcomed us warmly and introduced us to the our new travelling companions. Being in their presence alone was amazing. They knelt before us in greeting and welcomed us as friends. It’s hard to explain the humility and connection I felt – not just with the elephants, but with the Universe. If you’ve ever looked an elephant in the eye before, you might understand what I mean. If you haven’t, I fully accept how corny what I just wrote sounds. But that’s what I felt. There was no ego, no superiority. We were all sharing time together and it was as simple as that.

Many people say that elephants stink but I don’t remember smelling anything particularly offensive. Maybe I smelt like an elephant myself and so I didn’t notice – it was a warm, humid day… Placing a hand on their hulking bodies introduced a tough, leathery hide to my fingertips that was peppered with thick, coarse hair. Once our introductions were done, the guardians ushered us towards a hill that served as a mounting block for the elephants.  Once we were safely (and only a little uncomfortably) atop the creatures, we began our ambling walk through the reserve that was their home.

They held free reign over the park they lived in. There was no leashing, or chaining. The elephants were free to do as they pleased, and they had quite a large piece of land on which to roam. Casually, with absolutely no hurry at all, our friends walked us through their home. Tree branches brushed our faces occasionally and our guides nudged the elephants to a pause every now and then to allow us to photograph our experience. Sometimes our hosts would simply stop to eat, wrangling branches in their strong, prehensile trunks and raking handfuls of leaves into their mouths. Chewing slowly they would turn and begin walking again as the gentlemen riding with us told us about the park and the history of the elephants.

After a while our majestic friends returned us safely to our starting point. Kneeling gently to allow us an easy dismount, they then sat with us for more photo opportunities. That day; that walk with the elephants is one I will never forget. I’ll never understand how poachers can value money above the lives of these noble creatures – and all the others that have been hunted through the centuries.

Take care everyone, I may not post for a day or two while I recover from this silly illness. Be kind to yourselves and if you ever get the chance – spend some time with an elephant. You will never regret it.

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3 responses to “In The Company of Greatness

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