29.07.2012 Our Third Time To The Four Legged Elephant, One For Each Leg
An Aussie couple had arrived earlier on in the week so a third and final trip to feed the four legged elephant was called for! This trip was again very similar to the first two, although we didn’t take any students with us this time and the farmer who owns the stone well had now constructed a little raft. After quite a brief swim and paddle around we fed the elephant, Fiona kept giving her elephant kisses by blowing down her trunk which was reciprocated by what can only be elephant sneeze – sound like a good way to be covered in elephant snot to me.
We walked home through the forest coming across a patch of pineapple plants, which didn’t look at all like I thought they would and some mysterious rocks. The forest suddenly cleared and there was a large area of rocks, similar to rock pools you encounter at the seaside but in the middle of the woods; maybe because of this peculiarity they had been given some divine meaning and there were shrines and incense sticks a plenty, but then again maybe not. I wanted to plunge into one of these pools to see how deep they were, but was soon reprimanded by Cebolas for dipping just a foot in. As we continued the walk home we got a view of the vast rice paddies that surround all the villages, and saw many of the villagers at work – some no older than the children we had been teaching at the school and the reality of rural poverty really hit home; and on that pleasant note we headed home!
08.07.2012 Does Andong Tuek Have A Three Legged Elephant?!
Our first conversation with Sopheap he had mentioned something about a resident three legged elephant, we had brushed it off as a miscommunication – but after lunch Kenha asked me,
“Do you want to come and see the elephant?” to which I responded
“Does a three legged elephant live in Andong Tuek?” of course she didn’t understand that, so I just nodded. I purchased my bananas to feed the elephant (as you may remember I’m a qualified elephant trainer) and set off with Simon, Kenha and my evening class. As we walked the mile or so to the elephants home Simon revealed that it wasn’t a three legged elephant, but rather the elephant had caused a poacher to lose a leg (but agreed that Sopheap had said it was a three legged elephant); although this made the elephant a little less special it made it no less exciting. Whilst trekking through the jungle we discovered to our amusement how petrified these country kids were of pretty much all wildlife; this particular time it was a cow wire snake – whilst Simon and I stood and watched the class and Kenha made a dash for it. At the farm we were welcomed by three barking dogs, which again the Cambodians fled from like the plague, after entering the farm via a barbed wire fence we got our first sight of the four legged elephant. More exciting to me was the small lake (the Cambodian’s call it a stone well) in front of the elephant.
“Do you think we will be allowed to swim in it Simon?” I optimistically asked, then I saw one of the students taking the plunge – so I was in!
Eventually the whole class, Simon and Kenha (who was wearing jeans, t-shirt and a hoody to swim in)were in too, although most the kids couldn’t swim – which meant Simon and I became a taxi service to the pontoon in the middle; after everybody was on the pontoon Kenha dished out some fruit for our consumption. Big Mistake. The elephant was in the next field and must have smelt the fruit as she made a move for the gate, and before we knew it she was submerged in the stone well. The animalphobic Khmer started - by now the predictable over reaction of screaming and clinging to Simon and I, as if we were going to out swim an elephant with fifteen (correct spelling especially for you Thomas Reed) people on our backs. The kids who could swim had by now made a dash for shore whilst Simon and I were left as glorified shields for the hysterical remainder until the farmer used my bananas to coax the elephant away. (My bananas! Guess I won’t be feeding the elephant then. That’s two thousand five hundred Riel I’ll never see again… I got over it, it’s about thirty five pence.)
Once Simon and I had taxied all the kids to dry land we went and petted the elephant (as I now had no bananas to feed it with) and then headed home – having our attempts at Khmer mocked all the way. Having thoroughly enjoyed our day we topped it off with a whiskey Sunday!