Published as part of Wordless Wednesday
Everyone wants to ride an elephant when they travel to Asia. Including me. Unfortunately it was only afterwards that I learned the disturbing truth about this popular activity. All I thought about was how incredible it would be to sit atop a massive 9 foot tall, 4 ton beast while lumbering through the rivers and jungle of Bali. I couldn’t wait to get a photo of me riding on top of a massive elephant!
I did some research on the elephant park just outside of Ubud in Bali and it mentioned that the animals had been rescued from areas in Sumatra where many elephants were forced to work in harsh conditions. In my naiveté, I was convinced that they had it much better toting around tourists all day in Bali. So, without a second thought, I booked a tour to experience the elephants.
Once there, I was appointed the baby elephant to ride on. Even though it was a baby, it was huge once I got to stand next to it. I climbed onto a large chair like saddle that was strapped around the elephant’s belly and joined the line of elephants already carrying their squealing tourists. I handed my camera to the guide who then took photos of me on this little fellow as we walked through the dense jungle.
An elephant’s gait is not smooth and the entire ride felt like I was slowly being shaken up. The ride was uncomfortable, to say the least, and I was left wondering if there was any reason to ride an elephant other than just to say you had. Which really isn’t a good reason to do much of anything.
However there’s a dark side to elephant tourism that I was not aware of.
These animals had to be extensively trained to become docile ride givers and performers. I don’t know about the training methods used at the park I visited, but the training is often peppered with horrific abuse. While elephants are able to carry a significant amount of weight, the total load of the saddle, guide, and two or more passengers can easily overburden the beautiful animal. The weight, combined with the hours they are forced to cart people around, is often detrimental to the elephant’s physical and mental well being.
Have you ever done anything while travelling that you regretted later on?
While waiting for my Japanese work visa in ’08 I got stuck in Bali for 2 and half weeks. If I had to be stuck somewhere, paradise was the best place to be. I spent most of my time reading and relaxing in the sun and exploring the island. I visited the beautiful temples and then went and explored the beautiful rice paddies of Bali on a quad bike! It was a fun way to do some sightseeing off the beaten track.
The Bali Quad tour took me to through authentic Balinese terrain across rice fields, plantations, through the jungle and loads of mud tracks!
The guide picked me up at my hotel early morning. Once we arrived at the base camp we stored your belongings in a locker and watched a safety video before we received a briefing from our guide. The Quads are fully automatic & easy to operate although driving through mud and water got a bit tricky later on.
Once we had completed the test track we started our 2 hour adventurous sightseeing tour. During the tour we got to enjoy the beautiful sights, and learn a little bit about the surrounding areas from our guide. One of the guides took our cameras and took photos of each of us as we struggled through the mud and rice paddies on the quad bikes.
We got to drive ourselves along the most hidden spots on the island, through magnificent panoramas that took my breath away. Unfortunately I could not capture it all on camera as one of the guides had mine. But half way through we took a break and I got to capture some of the beautiful scenery around us before we continued on our mud covered adventure.
This was enough dirty adventure for one day but the views made it all worth it. Would you go quad biking through the jungle and rice paddies?
This weeks Photo Challenge, compose your subject off-center, obeying the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is a photography concept that puts the subject of the photograph off-center, which usually results in blank space in the rest of the image.
The “Rule of Thirds” one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography and rightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots. I will say right up front however that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesn’t mean your images are necessarily unbalanced or uninteresting. However a wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!