Surin...The Elephant Festival pix

Discussion in 'North-East Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by cdrw, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    I'm sure the site has other member pix of the festival, but as I've nothing better to do, I'll post mine.
    They may be helpful to anyone who may be considering attending a future festival.

    The Elephant Festival:
    The day before the stadium festival, there is a parade which starts at Surin's railway station
    and ends at the main traffic circle, which is maybe 5-6km away, where they hold an elephant feeding.

    The parade begins with a band and other marching groups, followed by the floats which contain food for the elephants
    and lastly the elephants bring up the rear. The latter reduces the number of elephant provided 'obstacles' the marchers
    have to contend with!

    Some of the feed floats:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The initial group of elephants lineup at the back of the procession:

    Some marching groups wear tradition costumes:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The elephants bring up the back of the parade:

    From the railway station, the parade then starts the 5-6km march to mid-town traffic circle for the elephant feeding:

    Costumed children sit curbsite along parts of the route:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Even other mammals are in costume:

    The parade departs to the feeding station:

    Then, another 100 or more elephants joins the back of the parade:

    I didn't bother going to the feeding area, due to the heavy traffic and expected congestion from onlookers. Nor can I
    imagine how many tons of food was needed to feed all those elephants!

    At the Festival:

    Lots of traffic..both locals and numerous tourists trying to get to the stadium.
    Event prices were 40-Bt standing room for locals, packed in so dense I doubt any but those in the front could see. Stadium seats for
    tourists and the affluent locals were 500 & 1000-Bt. I was lucky to obtain a last minute center stadium seat at the event [ack! 1000-Bt],
    which included a box lunch and a straw mat to sit on. The straw mat did nothing to cushion the concrete seating. Affixed on the
    opposite side of the mat was a commemorative cloth citing the event...obviously primarily for the tourists!

    The stadium is enormous...maybe 150 meters wide and 500 meters in length. Concerts are also held at the stadium.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] Mom & her 2-week old baby:

    Both following the feed parade, held on Nov 20th, as well as during the following days stadium event, the 'clean up' crews begin
    their busy days and not so envious task of continually clearing the area of elephant...residue.

    Numerous colorful parades, some depicting historical events:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Then to entertain the masses, the elephants performed tricks. I found this demeaning and left before the show ended.
    Sadly, as elephants are no longer used for logging and while there are a few park preserves for wild elephants, none that
    have been domesticated can ever be returned to the wild. They and their mahouts can often be seen begging for food,
    in trying to satisfy a grown elephants 100kg daily food requirement.
    [​IMG] HulaHoops [​IMG]
    Elephant tug-o-war with 100 adults and later with even more children. Of course the elephant always wins.

    Mahoots whose elephants beg for food in Surin are required to have license plates:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A local friend told me that each year there are minor changes made to each year's the show. Maybe some different costumes
    and changes in the commentary, but generally similar to prior years.
    Would I attend this event again? Definitely, not! Once is fine, been there done that, but in my travels I prefer to avoid
    hordes of western tourists and the Elephant Festival attracts the most tourists!! Yet, I will revisit friends who reside in the area.

    And for good visit the "Star Beam" restaurant (but main the sign is in Thai) for excellent Western food. Located just east of the railway station and not
    far from the Thong Tarin Hotel...the best thin crust pizza I'd had in country as well as hamburgers w/ 1/3-lb quality meat patties that don't turn into poker chip sized patties when cooked. Surprisingly, even though farang owned, the owner's wife make excellent Thai food, as attested by the throngs of local Thais that prefer to dine there.
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  3. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    thanks for the post & pics cdrw. I have a wonderful photo here from the first Elephant round-up in 1955. Never been to it myself, so interesting to see what it's all about these days. It must be good to see so many elephants together, but those tricks are a sad sight I'm sure.
    I got to see the elephant polo up here in the north last March.... quite entertaining and no demeaning tricks at least...


  4. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Have to agree with Ian & CDRW - it is demeaning seeing these lovely animals performing tricks, but I wonder what tourist business the elephant camps would get without them? Western tourists I think would still go if only elephant riding & no "show" but I am not convinced Asian tourists would. Since logging finished I guess they have to make a living any way they can - at least they still have the elephants. Second Ian on the Elephant Polo - the way the mahouts can control their elephant so the player gets a good shot has to be seen to be believed.

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