“It’ll be great!” my father exclaimed with enthusiasm. He was referring to an elephant riding attraction he heard about earlier that day. We were in Thandwe, a small village in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar. Myanmar was where my grandfather was born, so my father and I felt we needed to visit, especially with the government recently opening up its borders. With smiles on our faces, we departed to head towards the elephant farm, expecting many well-trained, muscular elephants and English-speaking professional trainers. Upon arrival, however, I was dismayed to realize that there were simply two farmers who barely knew English and made a simple grunt and gesture towards an ancient-looking elephant. “I’m sitting this one out boy. It’s all yours!” my father stated. With dread in my heart, I climbed into the minuscule box sloppily tied onto the elephant’s shoulder blades. The ride was rough and hanging on was rougher. With my legs jumbled about outside of the box, each movement made falling out seem more and more imminent. While my father was having a riot and could not stop laughing while taking videos and pictures, I was horrified at the thought of falling to the ground from the large height of the elephant’s back. The ride seemed to take hours. Clutching the elephant’s skin for dear life, I somehow survived until the end. Upon dismounting, one of the farmers offered me to ride on the elephant’s neck instead. Needless to say, I swiftly refused, feeling deep pity for the ecstatic couple that was preparing to have their turn next. However terrifying the experience may have been, it does make for a hilarious memory and story.
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