Riding that giant was a jostling dose of royalty. I can understand why the elephant is the vehicle of kings in many Asian countries; sitting atop the largest land mammal and looking down on the tiny people your giant could crush at will, fills one with a sense of raw power. And traffic accidents, forget about it- nobody wants to rumble with an 11 foot tall (3.4 m), 12,000 pound(5,400) elephant. Mark Twain summed up his elephant riding experience in a similar fashion, "I could easily learn to prefer an elephant to any other vehicle, partly because of the immunity from collisions."
As we tromped along the walking course I tried to talk with the driver but he didn't have much to say. He walked us quietly to the edge of a lake where we paused and looked out over shoe-string waves to an old temple on the far shore. The experience was priceless. In my opinion there's no better way on the planet to spend $6.
The elephant is a holy animal in many Asian cultures. In India, where Twain rode his giant, the most popular deity is Ganesha, a god with a human body and an elephant head helps people through troubles.
Elephants are also play an important role in Thai culture where they serve as the national animal and were once found on the Thailand's national flag. Everything elephants do has some special significance, especially breeding. After our elephant returned to the corral and we dismounted, I visited the nearby gift shop and bought an amazing elephant postcard which showed the sacred act of elephant coitus. With a scene so graphic, I'm glad it wasn't one of the sights I came across in friendly Thailand.