Thursday, April 26, 2012

Elephant Riding in Cambodia

My Dad and stepmom, Kathy, visited Penang in February. They wanted to experience as much culture as they could, so we saw Chap Goh Meh, Thaipusam, and Cambodia with them. I think by the end of our trip, they had received so much culture that their heads were ready to explode! They had a great time, but their most favorite part was riding an elephant among the ancient Khmer ruins near Angkor Wat.

Here is my dad and Kathy sitting atop their pachyderm in front of the Angkor Thom gates. The driver is called a "mahout", and if you're lucky he'll serenade you using a leaf from a tree as his musical instrument during your journey.

Here is Jennifer, Craig and me on the top of our transport. Yup, the small ears indicate our ride is of the Asian variety of elephants. Their African cousins have the big ears.

The walls around Angkor Thom reach 20 meters high, and have 5 different gates. The gates have a huge carved Buddha face looking in all four cardinal directions. We passed through the gates in upscale Khmer-style on our elephants!

Along the way our elephant would occasionally stop for a snack. Here she is pulling some juicy leaves from a nearby tree.

We traversed the forest for a few minutes...

...until we came to The Bayon, which is like the Khmer Empire's state temple. It has one tower for each province. Each tower is carved with a Buddha face looking in 4 directions.

Here's a closer look at the Bayon.

After our ride we got a chance to give our elephants a few snacks in appreciation for their hard work. Craig was a bit nervous about feeding our elephant, but she happily ate the bananas anyway.

After he realized the elephant only wanted to eat the bananas, and not him, Craig was more comfortable and had a little more fun.

Kathy was more adventurous and gave the elephant a pat on its trunk.

Cambodia is awesome, and we're so happy that we got to see it! We're also happy that my dad and Kathy could come with us and share the memories!

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