I went to Asia in December 2019. I was excited to see “Elefantes en la tierra de elefantes.” Meaning, Elephants in the land of the Asian Giants! The large, graceful animals mesmerize me, the same way horses do. I spent Five weeks there with a little over one week in each: Indonesia, India, and Thailand. Surprisingly, I saw no elephants the whole time… until my last day on the trip.
My last day, after not practicing and some time away I felt I needed a shake up before more plane rides and wanted a grounding practice. That morning, I did 45 minutes of Kundalini Yoga after a good asana practice. After my practice, I set my intention for the day: To see an elephant.
I had decided before the trip that I did not want to go to the usual tourist trap; normally consisting of labor intensive and overworked elephants (been there, done that). I admit I was that person at one time. It was some years ago in Rajistan, India and we took an elephant ride up to a palace. It left my mom and me feeling icky, making elephants walk up and down hills for a few good Facebook pictures. I still have the pictures, and I get to revisit that feeling every time I see them.
So this time around I decided that I would prefer an animal sanctuary setting. I got on my scootie (that’s what they call a scooter in India) my last day and visited two places. The first one was less of a sanctuary and again, offered elephant rides where the elephant is forced to walk up and down hills with humans on his back in some “remote jungle” off the road, hardly authentic. Not only does it seem inhumane, but the price is ridiculously $TOOEXPENSIVE$. Before I got on my scooter to leave, I made eye contact with the elephant who had just rolled up with some sunburnt lad. In that moment there was this beautiful, deep acknowledgement of one another; the kind of feeling you have when you pass a stranger on the street and smile at them. It made me feel seen, like looking into the face of Ganesha (Hindu elephant God.)
After that encounter I went across the street for some Mexican comfort food (yes my last day in Thailand… haha- I needed to shake it up!) I sat at a sunlit, open air table that overlooked the crashing sea down below. Next to the restaurant was another elephant tourist trap, but I spotted a baby and a mama. There you could bathe with the elephant which at first seemed more humane. In my head began a diatribe about the domination and subjugation of animals for human pleasure started. I wondered how this was any different… again it was a tad expensive, so I decided to pass.
I got back on the scooter after lunch and although I had yet to have an up close and personal experience with an elephant I was pretty satisfied. My time was dwindling and I had to get ready to catch a flight. I spent a few more hours scooting around before dropping off my moped. Fortunately I found a pretty sweet man with a sidecar attachment to his motorcycle to give me a ride to the airport.
We got some fresh air and some epic views on the ride. The most exciting part You’ll never guess…. more elephants! Not just 1 or 2, there was an elephant flood on the way to the airport! I saw 10 or more elephants– approximately a dozen all day!
Needless to say, I got my wish: lots of elephants; though many working tirelessly at tourist’s beck and call for profit. It got me thinking a lot about what sustainable tourism looks like; but that’s a post for another day. I’m glad I got to see so many of the pretty babies without (directly) exploiting them.
So my final thoughts are that abundance, or in this case, ELEPHANTS are everywhere! It was very telling what a strong Kundalini practice can manifest. There is so much beauty amidst the storm, you just have to learn how to navigate the waters and slow down to acknowledge the synchronicities. You can be truly powerful with sincere intent and pure dedication. I am grateful to have had this experience and be able to share it with the world. Thank you for reading, until next time amigos. Namaste y’all!