Our last day in Indonesia was Elephant Day. In the morning we went to the Bintan Elephant Park. We watched the elephants perform some impressive tricks (although they weren’t particularly good at soccer or mathematics). While waiting to line up for some elephant rides, I spent some time chatting to one of the handlers (bull men?). He also had a young child about Hayden’s age, who also was not sleeping through the night. I asked him if his son had ridden an elephant yet, but he said that the park was a 35 minute ride on a motorbike from his home, and that was not safe for a baby. I also asked him if he wanted his son to work with elephants when he got older, and the answer I received was an emphatic “no”.
When it was our time to ride the elephants, Hayden had fallen fast asleep. I think he liked the gentle bumping along the jungle paths while snuggled up against Adrian’s chest. I was told that my elephant was extra tall because his mother was Sumatran while his father was from Thailand. The two elephant handlers were really kind to us, taking a lot of extra time to line up the two animals, and then even hopping off to take some great shots. I was really impressed with their consideration and patience.
We also met a yellow python – Hayden’s second snake experience – though we didn’t let it get too close to him, as those strong muscles aren’t just for show. Hayden also slept through this encounter.
In the afternoon, Milly from the elephant park visited the hotel. I watched her give short rides to all the kids, and took photos for many families as they made a short circuit around the grass. Once the queue had vanished, the handler let me meet Milly and feed her tiny Indonesian bananas. She was very patient, stretching out her mottled pink and grey trunk and waiting for me to place the fruit in her finger-like projection. She never grabbed the banana from my hand, though she did snortle and sniff at me thoroughly after each one to see if any more were waiting for her. After stroking her hairy trunk I said good-bye and thanked her for being such a gentle and delightful creature.