The Elephant Ride
Over the Alps of Myanmar

During our family tour of a part of Myanmar, my granddaughters and I went on an elephant ride. That was a decision that their parents decided without letting me know in advance. We drove up to a place that had a dozen elephants in a couple large enclosures. It was a nice place. The girls were delighted and fed some of the elephants chunks of sugar cane.

After the local workers picked out our elephant that Fatty, Snow, Ti Ti and I would ride, the four of us got onto the elephant’s wooden seat. Once the attendants were sure that we were secure in our seat, off we went on our elephant ride.

The four of us laughed and talked for a couple of minutes while the elephant started his long journey. Apparently, the elephants knew quite well the way to circumnavigate the route around this large rustic park without a guide leading them. I settled back for a nice time laughing and chatting with my grandkids.

We might have gone a hundred yards before we were climbing over mountainous terrain. Gone were the thoughts about just a nice bumpety time on the back of an elephant. It felt like we were Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps of Myanmar.

I took this photo many years ago.

Hannibal was the Carthaginian who was able to lead 30,000 soldiers, 15,000 horses, and 37 elephants over the Alps from France into Italy. Hannibal was an amazing general and was able to do his herculean adventure in a mere sixteen days. Sometime in late May to early June in 218 BCE, Hannibal crossed the Alps and invaded the Roman Republic. Interestingly, I remember a chilling factoid about the elephants. None of the 37 elephants made it into Italy due to the weather conditions and the topography of the Alps.

Before we started our trip, my granddaughters needed to feed the elephants and talk with their newfound four-legged friends. I had intended to take wonderful pictures on our elephant ride. Before we left the elephant’s enclosure, I gave my camera to Ko Ko for safe keeping. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that I felt like Hannibal. It was scary and exciting at the same time.

The elephant didn’t seem concerned as he ventured forth over the mountainous terrain. Fatty, Snow, and Ti Ti enjoyed our excursion and didn’t seem worried our elephant would stumble or fall down some deep ravens. As we started to return to our starting point, Ko Ko gave me my camera, but it is extremely difficult to take video while riding on an elephant…trust me.

We enjoyed our elephant ride, and our elephant made it through Myanmar’s version of the Alps in one piece along with its passengers. My family and I had some snacks on our return to our hotel not far from Bagan. That evening, we had dinner and talked about past adventures and those still ahead on our tour of Myanmar.