A day with Tuan / by Marek Charytonowicz

Today we went to spend a day with two mahouts and a guide named Tuan, very funny Bunong man in his mid twenties, learning his english. He is very nice, talks with us all the time and shows us the jungle from Bunong point of view - stops the bleeding from some cut on my leg with some herbs’ juice, shows us giant beetles and beautiful green grasshopper the size of my palm and from time to time forgets himself and starts singing local songs with surprisingly good voice.

We accompany mahouts from the moment they unchain elephants in the morning, through all day of walking around the forest and munching on various plants which the elephant choose like dishes in a restaurant, till the time we all walk back to the washing area. I’m sunburnt (as today surprisingly is not raining, only clouds are passing by with windows of blue sky from time to time), covered in mud from head to toe and happy. The elephants were very friendly all day, came for a morning pat on the trunk in the morning and kept trying to splash us with mud on the way back. It’s amazing that you can actually see personalities in them and different characters. You can see when they’re sleepy or playful, relaxed or nervous or confused.

They seem to enjoy being taken care of and when washed, they sometime pretend they’re drinking just to splash the water from their trunks on you.

There are only few days left now and I know I’m going to miss this place and the elephants. But it’s time to go and explore temples of Siem Reap, Angkor Watt and later fly to Vietnam. There’s still plenty to see on my trip, it is actually only beginning now.