This day was the first of our three day trek, which involved staying overnight at an elephant camp and rafting; white water and bamboo. I had never done any of these things and one of my closest friends said she’d had an amazing experience in Chiang Mai with her elephant trek, so I was hoping for the best. As we started our walk, we were told that it was around 50/50 flat terrain and uphill. Either this man was a liar or I am far more unfit than I had realised (probably the latter.) My wonderful, big strong man kindly insisted on carrying our large overnight bag, whilst I was put in charge of a tiny Nike rucksack with lots of little, light things in - but I still found it embarrassingly hard. At one point, a 49 year old guide lagged behind and asked if I needed to stop as I must have had an injury as I was walking funny - I had to find a way to explain that unfortunately for me, that was my natural funny walk and my ankles always look that Bambi-esque.
The experience of visiting the elephant camp was bittersweet, it was hard to tell how ethically the animals were treated as we witnessed animals roaming freely, but also saw some chained up, and others were used to carry tourists around a short track. Hopefully, the elephants get to reside on the other side of the river and only have shift work carrying tourists. I hope they pay them with lots of bananas.