Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Magic of Thailand

Thailand is a magical place, drawing us back several times. The people are so friendly and it is heartbreaking to think of what they have endured (as has the rest of Asia) from the tsunami and earthquakes, now followed by flooding. The world has opened its heart with aid and supplies, but the battered country is difficult to traverse from all the damage. So, enter the elephants, long the national animal of the monarchy and symbol of luck. The lovely creatures, big with beautiful eyes and a gentle nature, are working in convoys to deliver food, water and other aid. What a wonderful reward for a country that has revered and preserved elephants as part of their culture! We rode one through a muddy area, up and down hills. They are sure-footed and will get the job done, as long as there are a few small bananas as a treat.
Another story reported the following: "In Thailand, officials borrowed six elephants from the Wang Chang elephant farm in the 17th-century Thai capital of Ayuddhaya for help in clearing away wrecked buildings and other debris from the ruined resort island of Phuket and Phang Nga province. The animals — who were also used in recreated battle scenes for the movie "Alexander" — arrived Sunday and began work immediately on the muddy, hilly terrain. The six were chosen because they are smart and can act on command."
The sea-gypsies are also testament to the simplicity of life on the shores. These native folk have read the patterns of the tides for centuries. When others were drawn to the sea to watch it recede, and catch fish coming in, they knew it was a sign of a tsunami and that the water would return with intensified strength and speed. So they ran to the hills....and they are safe. As I said, Thailand is a magical place.