It was good to know that the guy on the scooter in front of us had washed his clothes this morning and I like the fact that he has a funny shaped mole on the back of his arm. Thing is, I’d rather not know this kind of stuff about a complete stranger whilst we complete a non emergency, emergency stop.
I’ve been embracing the local driving skills since arrival, which is hard for me being a control freak. I’m sure they have a self preservation gene that will keep us all alive, fingers crossed I’m right.
We left Sigiriya this morning and started the long journey back down to the coast to spend our last evening before going back to “the real world”. To break up the journey we decided to visit an elephant sanctuary half way down. After a tip from trip advisor we have hopefully found a sanctuary that is kind to the elephants and does not keep them chained up or offer rides that involve them wearing seats on their backs.
Today is a full moon which means holiday time here, I have no idea if that means it will be busier than usual or quieter. It seems like big businesses are closed but smaller ones are open.
After a few hours we arrive at the elephant sanctuary and we go to check out what we can do. There are several packages on offer but we decided to go for the top one as you get to wash the elephants in the stream at the end.
We are given a guided tour of the museum and learn lots of things about the elephants in Sri Lanka. The ones at the sanctuary have been rescued from what was once an acceptable lifestyle, giving rides to tourists and perform tricks whilst being chained up and not cared for correctly.
We move along to meet our elephant and are given a basket of fruit and veg to feed to them, everyone takes a turn and our elephant seems happy, but then aren’t we all after a good feed.
Time for a few photos before we followed our elephant around the sanctuary on a little walk. On the way round we got to see a few more elephants, one of which was chained up but this is because it was a male in musth. Turns out the boys get a bit mental when they are in musth so as sad as it was, I understand the need to help him and us safe. No one wants to deal with the aftermath of a big angry, horny, vegetarian.
At the end of the walk our elephant is then guided down to the stream so we can have the opportunity to get very close and wash the elephants. She seems a little reluctant to lie down and I didn’t feel happy that she was almost being forced to lie down, turns out she just needed a big poo! After her poo she was fine and we got to give her a hug, a rub down and she even gave us a shower with her trunk!
A few happy snaps later and we were on our way down to the coast for our last night.
Overall it was an amazing experience but I’m not sure how I feel about the sanctuary, on the way down to the coast I get to reflect. I know that the elephants are in a better place then before they were rescued but I still wish their lives were a bit better. It would be great if they didn’t have to wear chains when in musth but there is no area they can stay safely, the sanctuary isn’t big enough for that. They do offer rides here, without cages on top, just a rug and no chains and whilst they are phasing this out it would be great if they just stopped it now. This obviously gets people in and money to help keep the animals, for me, feeding the elephants and having a photo was enough. As I don’t have a solution for these things I’ll just have to carry on and wait till I win the lottery to sort this out!