Last Note from Thailand: I Love My Dog, but…

Our photo-workshop group is on their way home from Thailand.  I’ve left my desk and am in Alabama visiting my in-laws for the holiday.

I'm trying not to work. But today, I got this note from Rich, right before he got on the plane, and I just have to pass it along.  He titled it: “I love my dog, but…”



Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

Here's that note from Rich…

From: Rich Wagner
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2010
To: Lori Allen
Subject: RE: I love my dog, but…

My dog, Mr. Boo, is one of the brightest poodles I know. While I'm watching Survivor, or American Idol, he's rereading Camus in the original French.

But Mr. Boo has nothing on an elephant.

Yesterday we spent the morning on an elephant preserve and training area. We were able to feed them, watch them being bathed by their mahouts, perform a demonstration of their typical workday, and finally ride them through the jungle for an hour. I was particularly fond of the sign that said:

"Please feed the whole bunch of bananas to the elephant, not one at a time, so he doesn't become impatient."

Don't you just love simple statements that tell you all you need to know? In the U.S., we would have had a twelve page legal document outlining all the things that annoy elephants followed by another four pages making us aware that we could fall from the elephant if we stood up or removed our restraints. Needless to say I took great pains to make sure my elephant retained his composure.

You may be asking what a typical elephants workday consists of. Well basically he's a construction and transportation specialist and the mahout is the foreman. The foreman takes very good care of his staff, bathing him in the river and scratching him behind the ears. The construction specialist removes trees, stacks huge logs, drags or carries astounding amounts of material anywhere you want it and provides a shower for you anytime he has access to water.

He also moves gently through the jungle swaying side to side rhythmically and predictably. While he's not the ideal tripod, he is the ideal vantage point for seeing over the brush and trees, so we compensate by increasing our shutter speed and thank the inventor of autofocus.

This was a lifetime memory, and being able to make a photograph of the experience makes it even richer.


P.S. The view of the elephant from the driver's seat is like looking at the top of my head when I don't shave it for a week. I feel a connection.

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