Elephant taxis taking in the historical spots in the ancient capital.
Elephant taxis offer a novel, and environmentally friendly, method of taking in the ancient capital. An expert 'Taxi driver' will
accompany you, providing brochures in English to explain the ruins. German and Japanese brochyres will soon be available.
An elephant splashes water through its trunk on a group of revellers riding on a pick-up truck during the Songkran festival in Ayutthaya province
If you are passing by Khum Khun Phaen (Khun Phaen House) in Ayutthaya, you will see a small elephant camp with a booth attached to it. The booth is there to render service to tourists wishing to take an elephant-back ride around the city's historical sites.
Sompast Meepan runs the elephant camp and his elephant serve as "taxis" to take people around the ancient ruins.
Not all elephants canbe used to taxi people around. Their past lives have to be examined to find out whether they are gentle beasts or have a more sinister background. But the mahouts are tested first and new elephants walk behind the more experienced ones,
with mahouts in control, to make sure they are capable of taking passengers on board.
The training takes around five days and on the fifth day the camp manager puts them through a final test. They are walked to temples where they can be tested among noisy crowds that they may startle them. If they can cope with the clamour, showing no adverse reactions,
they are put to work the next day carrying passengers.
Mahouts and elephants stayed in the elephant camp at the south of Khum Khun Paen, Ayutthaya
Sompast dream is notjust in running an elephant taxi services, but to revive the elephant kraal this time by setting up a village with a place for elephants and their mahouts to stay. Together, man and beast will be able to earn a living by working in the camp.
The idea is to use the camp as a place to study and gather information on the elephants for which an estimated ten million baht investment is required.
Should this materialise, the plan will run over five years during which time Sompast will teach Ayutthaya folk to become mahouts.
Although it ia a long-team plan, Sompast believes that thirty years from now, Thailand will be the best plance in the world for people to come and learn about elephants.