Note: This post was written back in 2011 before much had been published about the treatment of elephants. Were I to visit Cambodia again, I definitely would not do this.
When Mom and I were in South Africa two years ago, we visited an elephant sanctuary. We fed them, we nuzzled them, we walked them. But I just couldn’t justify paying the $100ish the facility wanted for a quick 10-minute ride. Yet, when we got to Angkor and found out we could take a trip out to one of the temples on top of one—for the bargain price of $15—I was sold, as was the rest of my Semester at Sea group.
We divided up into twos and threes and each waited to board our chariot. From there, we were chauffeured out along a river, around the South Gate and back.
It was similar to riding a horse on a trail ride in that the “driver” has very little control and the transportation stops for a snack whenever it so desires.
While I won’t begrudge the elephant—they are magnificent, beautiful, soulful creatures—the experience was a bit underwhelming. The ride was…bumpy. (Duh.) In fact, I even started to get a little motion sick on the trip back! Four months on the ocean and my stomach remained perfectly calm—thanks to the glory of medicated miracle patches called scopolamine—yet five minutes on an elephant, and I was ready to yak.
I couldn’t say I was upset to disembark my ride when we got back to base camp, though she was sweet.