The Disappearing Elephant
‘Day off school! Day off school!’ sung Sinead, jumping up and down on our sorry looking mattress.
I shortly joined her chant, dancing like a lunatic across the balcony.
As a child, it’s hard to imagine that the teachers are probably more excited to have a day off school than you are. Anyone watching our crazy routine would be forgiven for mistaking us for ten year olds.
‘Thank you Buddhas!’
I’m not entirely convinced that the Buddhas would have really appreciated the fact that the only acknowledgement and gratitude we ever gave them came when a religious holiday meant we had time off school. But at least it was something.
It was simple to decide how to spend our day. Time for another bike adventure! No matter how many times we rode around the jungles of Thung Song, it was something we would never tire of. There was always a new beautiful sight to be discovered, a new person to talk to, or another random situation we’d land ourselves in.
On a previous occasion we’d discovered what we later named the ‘Hillbilly Village’.
Past random sharp turn, on a random rocky track, past the road with the biggest pothole, over the bridge by the banana trees…that was where we found it.
A little jungle community. Surrounded only by the rubber trees, and a couple of frail looking wooden shacks were a group of people distinguishable by their wide toothless grins, their apparent love of daytime drinking and their pet chickens which roamed the area.
We appeared to be heading in that direction again. I followed Sinead and Jen as they zoomed over the bridge by the banana trees. As we swung around the corner to approach our hillbilly friends, we spied the usual empty bottles of Leo littering the area, heard the familiar squawking of the community chickens. But then we came across something completely unexpected…
‘Aaaaaarghhhhhh!’ I shrieked ‘An Elephant!’
We brought the bikes to a halt in front of the gentle giant. Grinning, Jen whipped out her camera for some snaps of the beautiful creature. The elephant appeared to have a chain looped over its back, so we assumed it must be used for some kind of lifting work. It was enjoying a delicious snack of grass and flowers, and doing a good job of ignoring the two small children who danced around it in delight.
After our unexpected encounter we continued up the jungle track in the hope that it would lead us to a waterfall. When the track began to climb up a mountain and I almost toppled backwards off my bike, we decided it was time to turn back. This was just 5 minutes after we had spotted the elephant. We rode back, preparing ourselves for another glimpse of this wonderful animal. But we received no such glimpse. The elephant…had gone!
‘How the hell can you hide an elephant?’ I asked
‘Maybe they put it behind the house?’ suggested Jen
‘But it was bigger than the house!’ cried Sinead
‘Maybe we just imagined it?’
‘But we have photographic evidence!’
After much searching, we finally accepted defeat. The elephant had simply disappeared into the unknown. We never did see it again.