Back to Postcards page

Sept, 2005

Nearly Bumping Into an Elephan to Bangna Trad (Bangkok)

I pretty much stick to my apartment most of the week, only going to a nearby shopping center to buy necessities. On Sunday evening, I ended turning left instead of right. Right would have taken me to the air conditioned mall nearby.

It was coming on dusk as I walked down the side of a busy highway that has no sidewalk. Though there was a well worn path on the narrow strip between the crumbling edge of the asphalt and the stagnant water filled runoff ditch.

Every here and there, a car, or more often, a large truck or bus would be parked on the side of the road, too close to the ditch to allow me to walk on the safe side, and I had to walk out in the traffic lane to get around the obstacle. Speeding traffic came from behind, so passing a parked vehicle involved a lot of glancing back and forward to alternately check for traffic from behind and navigate around the obstacle, staying as close to it as I could. Still pretty close to the apartment, I approached a large truck parked on the side of the road, I noticed somebody's head sticking up from the other side of the truck bed. I thought it was the driver standing on the step at the driver's door, but then I noticed that he was coming toward me. A little confusing because nobody was that tall. There wasn't room for both of us between the truck and the speeding traffic so I stopped and waited behind the truck.

Then I noticed that his head was bobbing back and forth, as if he was riding a horse or something. A moment later, around from the side of the truck came a man riding a small elephant! Another man was walking in front, guiding the elephant and holding a back of cut pieces of sugarcane.

He offered to sell some sugarcane to me to feed to the elephant. This is a form of begging, and I did not give money to these guys because I don't believe its in the elephant's best interest to take them into the city, especailly onto busy highways.

The elephant was a fairly small, and therefore a young one. I could almost touch the top of its head if I stood on my tip-toes. I could not see any interest in the elephant's huge round eyes, which were almost down to my eye level.  Its large trunk, about as bid around as my arm, can be compared with a warm, soft vacuum cleaner hose, complete with the sucking sound, seemed to show more signs of curiousness. Whether it was something I saw in the elephant, or something I projected from my suffering from the heat of the evening, I sensed a certain tiredness in the small elephant as he and his handlers passed on up the road.

That was the highlight of my walk. The rest of the walk alternated between high excitement as I scampered around trucks avoiding traffic and busses and long stretches during which I could think about serious things.

I finally reached my destination, an air conditioned shopping mall, 8 kilometers from my apartment. My shirt had large dark splotches where it had sweated through. I had planned to take a taxi back home.

As I approached the mall, what had been a pretty lonely highway became more and more crowded with pedestrians  In front of the shopping center, there were about 100 people, all with their hands out, trying to flag down the rare taxi. Oh, yes, I remembered, this was the fist week-end after the first of the month, which is payday for many Thais. Getting a taxi in front of a shopping center was a hopeless task.



Back to Postcards page

Contents ©2005 Richard Cappels All Rights Reserved.