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
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
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
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
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.
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Contents ©2005 Richard Cappels All Rights Reserved.