After finishing the last blog, I had a 30 hrs trip to Surin in Thailand, first flying via Doha to Bangkok, and then, since I missed the 15.20 train, with bus from Mochit bus station in Bangkok, partly through areas east of Bangkok were the streets were still flooded.
Surin is a province in the Isan region, and its capitol is Surin town (Mueang Surin) which holds the annual elephant roundup in November each year. Its very close to border in Cambodia, and a lot of people here speak a dialect of the Khmer language, called Khmer-Surin. Most mahouts, however, are not really Thai, but belong to the Sui, (sometimes refered to as Kuay) a people having their own language.
Arriving in a town 03.00 in the night, hungry and tired, with no pre-booked hotel is normally not a good idea. But I sat down at a night open coffe shop at the bus station and had a noodle soup and a beer, and then went to Sang Thong Hotel where I stayed last time, and managed to check in 05.00.
Already jumping off the Tuk Tuk in front of the hotel, there was a typical smell of elephant dung which was so inspiring, so I didnt even take a nap, although I could hardly sleep on the bus. (No pictures today, so I add some from my last visit in the spring of 2011. The elephant on the street was actully pictured utside the same hotel in March this year) Sang Thong Hotel is a rather simple, but OK Hotel in Chinese style, it has a large number of rooms, so theres good chances of getting a room even in peak season.
07.30 I went to the Srinanong Stadum. On the way, you may pass a junction with natural size elephant statues. Theres also a sign mentioning the Guiness world record of the largest elephant buffet, which took place in 2003, including 260 elephants and over 50 tonnes of fruits and vegetables.
The show included similair concepts I have seen before in Thailand, but The Stadium gives the large number of elephants a significant stronger impact. The speaker said that the first roundup was in 1960, but other sources state since 1955. After the show I was happy to meet Apple, who works in the elephant village Ban Tha Klang, nort of Surin town. Apple hepled me a lot, during my last visit, when I was listing most elephants in Ban Tha Klang in the database.
A populair picture of the first roundup can be seem in many places, above is one I took in a Farang restaurant in Surin in March. In the closeup you can clearly read 1955.
While writing this blog, at least 20 elephants passed by, walking on the street. Although streets are definitely not the natural environment for a wild Asian elephant, I noticed that the culture and traditions in Surin town are different from Bangkok and Chiang Mai. On many places people and shop owner put out large water buckets on the street, so the elephants can take frequent pauses and drink and blow water on the skin.
Later I was standing in a crossing for 20 minutes without finding a tuk-tuk. All of a sudden an elephant turn up, why I bring up the camera to take a photo. In the next minute the mahout and the elephant bring me back to the hotel.
Also got some news, an sms from an animal transporter in Europe, saying he just transfered the asian female elephant Raja in Mallorca Safari Park to La Barben in France.