Lamkun the elephant, quietly formulating his evil plan
We went to an Elephant Camp today, which is basically a part of a jungle where industrious Thais have trained unlucky elephants to cozy up to tourists. Or at least not kill them. Apparently, these Dumbos have been domesticated enough to dull their natural instinct to trample us to death, and they all look vaguely depressed about their fate—though not enough to stop giving us rides in exchange for bananas.
A chatty New Zealander and I were put on the back of Lamkun, a diarrheal 30-year-old beast with more allergies than a third-grader at summer camp. Lamkun expressed his dissatisfaction with this arrangement by sneezing on us. Repeatedly. Deliberately. He would, like, bend his trunk 180 degrees to spray us, then snicker at us through his tusks. If you’ve never been sneezed on by an elephant, let me describe it to you. No, let me not. It’s some sick shit. By the end of the ride I felt like I had done ten laps in a pool filled with petroleum jelly.
The ride was bumpy and awkward and wet and the Kiwi never stopped talking and Lamkun never stopped hobbling around, except to periodically empty his testy bowels, a sound reminiscent of bowling balls thudding to the ground. Then I couldn’t figure out the damn digital camera, so every time I thought I was taking a picture, it turns out I was actually shooting a video. I didn’t realize my mistake until later that day, which is how I ended up with 33 short videos of Lamkun, several of which you couldn’t see because the lens was covered with elephant snot.
Yes sir, good times at Elephant Camp.
Later, Sarah decided to go rafting with some dudes on the grayest, foulest river I have ever seen, while Hannah and I played in a bamboo hut. Our only company were a droopy elephant deemed too old to give rides and some old Thai ladies who insisted on showing me the “right way” to put on Hannah’s diaper, which she appreciated even less than I did. Eventually, they tired of bossing me around and left. That’s when I realized we were alone in the middle of a Thai jungle, with a two-ton pachyderm attached to a suddenly thin-looking chain, glaring at us. Not your typical vacation.
Worse, I had to go to the bathroom—number two—but the only “bathroom” nearby was a fly-infested, parasite-oozing shack that I could smell from 50 yards. I wasn’t about to bring Hannah in there with me, and I certainly wasn’t going to leave her with the elephant, so I just held it until everyone came back. Which turned out to be like two hours.
By that point, I was in delirious agony, and before Sarah could tell me about the trip—“It was fun, but the river was so gross I almost ralphed”—I tossed Hannah to Sarah and sprinted to the Dysentery Fun House.
Inside the small room were two things: a bucket of water and a hole in the ground. I didn’t know whether to use the bucket or the hole. I went with the hole.
It did not go well.
Then I wasn’t sure what to do with the water, so I poured it in the hole and ran.
“Here, hold Hannah,” Sarah said when I came out.
“I can’t.” I held up my hands like a surgeon about to enter the O.R. “I need to wash my hands.”
Sarah laughed. “Where? We’re in the middle of a jungle.”
“I don’t know. The river?” I began walking toward the water’s edge.
“I wouldn’t put my hands in that water if I were you,” she said.
I no longer cared what diseases I contacted, and slid my hands into the cool water. Not so bad. No, this actually felt refreshing. Then, as I was rubbing my palms together and splashing the water up my arms, I heard a strange noise about 20 yards upstream. It was an elephant, dropping a load into the water and staring at me with a twinkle in its weary eyes at the thought of the treat it was sending my way.
@#$% you, Lamkun.