21
Feb

Pachyderm Polo?

by Alan Rider

elephantpolo2Of all the mementoes hanging on the walls of my office, a simple black-and-white 8-by-10 of me riding in a celebrity elephant race many years ago is still among my favorites.

What I love about this image is the details, especially the elephant’s handler caught in a full sprint alongside my four-ton mount as we crossed the finish line.  You see, that was the day I learned that—sufficiently motivated—an elephant can outrun your average human.  To say it was an exciting ride is something of an understatement.

Which may help explain why I think the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament sounds like such an extraordinary experience.  This must-see spectacle takes place on the grounds of the Anantara Resort in Thailand’s Golden Triangle region from March 23-29, with all proceeds going to benefit the country’s National Elephant Institute.

In addition to players from more than a dozen countries chasing a white ball up and down the field with 12-foot-long mallets, the festivities include a blessing ceremony by Buddhist monks and a parade of brightly-painted pachyderms.  There will also be cultural demonstrations including traditional costumed dancers from members of northern Thailand’s hill tribes. 

To get a feel for the event, check out the video here.

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