The slow (SLOW!) ride

June 28, 2015

On our way to attraction number two in Jaipur the guide told us that an elephant ride had been arranged as part of the fort visit. So, the first thing to note is that when I envisioned riding an elephant in India I didn’t see it taking place in a city. In my mind, we were going to be climbing on an elephant who had knelt down for us to board it out on an open plain or something. Like many things, our presuppositions about what we would experience in India were far off from the reality of it all.

So our elephant ride went more like this:

– Warning from the guide: Do NOT talk to anyone when you get out of the car. The “vendors” here are relentless and they will hound you until the minute you get on the elephant and then there will be more of them trying to sell you things even as you ride up to the fort entrance.

– John talks to the first guy that approaches him when we get out of the car. The “vendor” is indeed relentless. John finally buys a hat. (Somewhere along the way the hat was lost before John left India — I call that karma.)

– The elephant pulls up to the platform and we are instructed to get on. Once seated, the safety bar on our carrying vessel atop the elephant is latched in front of us and we are off.

There are an endless string of elephants pulling up to the platform with people boarding them. This creates a long parade of elephants walking up a steep incline to the fort entrance. We had THE SLOWEST elephant. I actually meant to take down the number of this large mammal so that I could warn others who may visit the Amber Fort in the near future to steer clear of this guy. Other elephants en route were passing us up — he was THAT slow.

John and I get along very well in general and although there were many overwhelming things coming at us quickly as we experienced India for the first time together, we did a very good job of trying to be in the moment, make the most of the situation and keep a positive outlook. That said, some things to consider for your first elephant ride:

  1. Do not take your first elephant ride on a steep incline. I’ll go so far as to say maybe don’t ever ride an elephant up a long incline.
  2. If you find yourself boarding an elephant for an inclined ride, put the bigger person toward the butt of the large mammal. If you do not, the larger person will continue to slide backward during the ride and crush the smaller person against the metal frame of the carrying vessel, causing discomfort and testing of the smaller person’s patience.
  3. Try not to do this in 107 degree Fahrenheit weather at midday when the sun it peaking.
  4. Send out as many positive thoughts as you can to secure your ride on an elephant that is relatively quick on its feet and who doesn’t cause you to wonder if it is going to stroke while you are riding on it.

All said and done, John and I reached the end of the ride where we finished the last few minutes on a flat surface. That would explain the thumbs up and the smiles in the picture below.

Elephant ride Amber Fort Jaipur 042015

True story — John and I were discussing the slowness of the elephant as we rode (as we tried to remain positive AND as we discussed how horrible it would be if the animal did indeed stroke). We decided it must be a really old elephant and this would probably be one of its last seasons doing this. Just as we finally approached level ground at the end of the route another elephant on its way back to the bottom passes us, and the guide says, “That elephant (pointing) is this one’s mother.” So much for our old as dirt elephant theory…

One Response to “The slow (SLOW!) ride”

  1. […] The slow (SLOW!) ride dropped us at the entrance to the Amber Palace a.k.a. the Amber Fort constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh. […]

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