After the raft ride, the bus took us to an elephant park where we were all brought into a stadium-style setup to watch the elephants amaze us with their sport and art prowess. These are Asian elephants, so quite a bit smaller and trainable as opposed to the African elephants I'm more used to (and have come across in an unhappy mood on more than one occasion).
Riding an elephant was a bit scary. We had some very steep ups and downs as we entered and exited the water. I nearly lost my flip flops a few times so ended up sitting on them. Nhatty, my trusty companion from Ethiopia, was a great friend to me and we enjoyed hanging out the whole day. We both paid a small tip to the elephant handler and received warm embraces and kisses from the elephant...not something I ever would have seen myself getting in this lifetime nor did I know such things existed. But I'll take it!
Nhatty and I somehow ended up late to just about everything. We were supposed to stay with our group, but somehow we lost them after the elephant ride so we wandered around to try to figure out what our next event was supposed to be. Turns out to be an oxcart ride, so we hopped on that and our driver dropped us off at the hill tribe "village" (tourist trap) where were expected to pay a hefty entry fee and go gawk and buy from "villagers". We weren't really into it and weren't sure whether we were dropped off accidentally or on purpose assuming the driver was given a little tip to take us there. Who knew?
We weren't afraid to walk back to grab lunch and swap stories with our group.
Next on our decision docket was a visit to tigers, snakes or flowers. Not a hard decision. Which would you choose?