Koh Lanta · Thailand

Island and Elephant Trekking Tour

Albeit Koh Lanta is not as commercialized as Phuket, it is far from being a bore. Activities are abundantly available – varying from snorkeling and island touring, to elephant trekking and Thai cooking classes. After a lengthy discussion, we decided to go for the Island and Elephant Trekking Tour.

The day started early with a healthy breakfast in Lanta Intanin before being picked up by Tuk-Tuk at 8.30am. We were then promptly transported to the Tung Yee Peng Nature and Eco Tourism Centre; a mangrove forest village part of the United Nations Development Program located on the eastern coast of Koh Lanta where a longtail boat ride awaited us.

Tung Yee PengP1140202
Clusters of Longtail Boats Awaiting PassengersP1140155

First stop was Talabeng Island for kayaking. I would not say that we are now fit enough to enter the Olympics but our upper bodies definitely had one heck of a workout.

Talabeng IslandP1140177
View from the Beach20151220_110558
Kayaking Around the Island20151220_101750

Bubu Island was next. Now THIS is how I always imagined the perfect island would look like. Not only did it have the peaceful tranquilizing atmosphere of a strong sedative drug; it was also accompanied by a dreamy sandy beach, deep blue skies, clear waters, and wait for it – a SWING tied to a tree and a hammock for those lazy afternoon naps. I do not think Robinson Crusoe would be dying to leave if he got stranded here.

Bubu IslandP1140182
A Seriously Picture-perfect Island Bu Bu No Text
A Swing to Sway Your Worries AwayP1140185

Another boat ride took us nearer to the mangroves, and gave us a chance to meet some new friends. You can see that some were more excited than the rest when it comes to having physical contact. Or maybe it was because we had food and drinks.

Monkeys Playing in the MangrovesP1140189
One of the Courageous Few Who Came On-board for a SnackP1140195
Who Knew Monkeys Liked Coke?P1140198

The last wrap of the day was the Elephant Trek. This was an add-on option to the Island Tour but since neither of us had ever been on one, we decided to give it a go. This was, of course, before we read that more and more elephants were dying from exhaustion and lack of proper care just to facilitate these activities. One thing that startled me was seeing a live elephant with long ivory tusks. African elephants commonly have tusks but honestly, when was the last time you saw a tusked Asian elephant? The tour guide soon explained that because elephants are so often hunted down for their tusks, the elephants themselves now opt to mate with elephants that do not have tusks so that the probability of their offspring having a pair and being poached for it will be lesser. How true that story is, I honestly cannot tell, but it is always sad when the animal kingdom has to pay such a hefty price for our greed and selfishness.

Our Tusked Asian Elephant20151220_151851

The trek went on for 30 minutes before turning back. There were flies all around and the elephant had to continuously sway its trunk and flap its ears to chase them away. It also continuously took short breaks to eat some leaves, much to the annoyance of the guide. When we approached a small stream, the elephant stopped and the tour guide requested for the camera so that he could take a full length picture of us sitting on the elephant. After taking pictures, the elephant remained stationary for quite some time and the guide suddenly shouted something that sounded like ‘tak perlu’, which means ‘not necessary’ in the Malay language. We thought it was a phrase used to encourage the elephant to continue walking so we joined in; shouting ‘tak perlu, tak perlu’ whilst gently caressing its neck. We were undeniably wrong because the next thing we knew, we were splashed from head to foot. Apparently that phrase was an order for the elephant to spray water at us. We eventually laughed at what happened but yes, key learning of the day – do not shout ‘tak perlu’ to an elephant in Thailand.

Effects of Shouting ‘Tak PerluP1140245

The elephant finally reached the platform for us to get off. It looked at me and perhaps it was because of the story, but somehow, I really, really felt sad for it. Looking into its eyes, not only did I decide to highlight it in this article , but as fun as it was, I also decided to never ride on an elephant ever again. The guide then told us that we could feed bananas to the elephant for 100THB (approximately RM11 / USD3), so naturally that was the last thing we did before being transported back to the resort.

Look Into Its Eyes, What Do You See?P1140266
Feeding Mr Elephant Some BananasP1140270

Verdict:

The island tour was really enjoyable and we got to see more of Koh Lanta’s beauty. I particularly enjoyed Bubu Island for its scenic views and tranquil surroundings. The elephant trekking add-on had an adverse impact on me so that would not be something I would whole-heartedly recommend, but the others are definitely given a thumbs up.    

Price:

Although we paid 1200THB (approximately RM138 / USD36) per pax, inclusive of the optional elephant trekking tour and simple lunch, prices may go as high as 1800THB (approximately RM208 / USD50) per pax. It all depends on your pax count and negotiation skills.

Duration:

Be prepared to spend roughly 8 hours for tours such as these; an hour more if you have opted for the optional elephant trekking tour. Ours was from 8.30am – 5.30pm.  

How to find it:

You can find numerous mix and match options available by different people, but they pretty much head off towards the same major places. Ask your resort/hotel as they are definitely linked to some and may be able to offer you a better price.

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