Thailand Travelogue: Riding Elephants Through the Four Seasons Tented Camps in the Golden Triangle
Earlier this year the Tourism Authority of Thailand invited me to come visit the country and create our first ever Asian guide for GayCities. The phenomenal travel connoisseur Carlos Melia took me, YouTuber Davey Wavey and colleagues from Pink Triangle Press, Passport magazine and dot429 around Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle region showing us the shiniest gems Thailand has to offer. The following travelogue retraces even more highlights from my eighth day there.
Towards the end of our Thailand journey we ventured to the Golden Triangle region and spent two wonderful nights at the Four Seasons Tented Camp. To get there we had to take a tiny boat through a river. Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by the entire staff, two of the elephants that reside onsite and yummy cocktails.
This Four Season resort made up of only 15 tents, all thrusted up on a mountain. For $2,000 a night you get your own tent with a king-sized bed and a marble bathtub, outdoor massages overlooking the valley and an elephant ride through the jungle!
One of the most exclusive stays in the world, the Tented Camps were featured on the cover of Conde Nast Traveler in December 2011 and had just welcomed Reese Witherspoon the weekend before we arrived.
On the way to the spa.
Open air spa overlooking the valley.
Our first night there we decided to celebrate by taking shots of this cobra whiskey. Yup, that’s a real cobra coiled inside, biting the tail of a scorpion. Yaa dong, or alcoholic remedies, are popular elixirs in Thailand.
The staff of the Tented Camps set up a nice candle-lit al fresco dinner for us. After dinner we gathered to light traditional Thai floating lamps, or jhom loy, setting them free to float up into the dark sky.
The following morning we got up early to go on our elephant trek through the jungle and river. Watch the video below to see what I was seeing while mounted on my elephant. Afterwards I got a full-body mahout massage. A mahout is a person dedicated to training an elephant for human passengers and spends several hours a day riding them, so the massage is intended to relieve the muscles strained after riding an elephant, especially the inner thighs.
That night we had dinner with an elephant expert who worked at the nearby elephant foundation. He told us that the gentle giants were some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. In recent research, he had found that when an elephant looked at himself in the mirror, he recognized that it was his own reflection and not another animal standing in front of him. That type of cognizance has only been found in dolphins, apes (us) and elephants. After several minutes of checking herself out in a mirror, a baby elephant ripped out some nearby flowers and put them on her head.