What is a trip to Bali without an elephant ride? Well, this wasn’t the usual elephant ride! As I climbed up a platform to the seat on Shuli's back, a bar came across me like on a roller coaster to hang on to. As I got settled in, I took my shoes off and tied them up around the bar. I placed my feet on her back. As she started to walk towards the woods filled with palm trees and huge ferns of all sorts, I proceeded to stroke Shuli with my feet and used my toes to rub gently across her back, from her neck to her sides where I could reach while still being attached to the seat!
As I moved my feet in different ways, I massaged her elephant-style. This is actually a form of Thai massage which is used with the feet and toes. It is a wonderful modality where the therapist uses the legs, feet and toes to stretch parts of the body to relieve muscular pain. Well, Shuli started flapping her ears fiercely back and forth. When I asked my guide, Madey, what that meant, he replied, “she is VERY, VERY Happy!” Her back started rippling like small bubbling water currents, and her tufts of coarse hair stood on end…Just like we do when we get goose bumps! It was quite exciting. I felt very bonded with her.
Madey has been guiding and taking care of Shuli for 12 years. All the 30 elephants come from Sumatra and are smaller than the elephants from India and West Africa. Nevertheless, Shuli seemed pretty big to me! But sweet! After my half-hour ride, we returned to a pool where she cooled off, and I was able to feed her. She ate many handfuls of bamboo. I wonder where my next animal massage experience will be? Humans are not the only species that benefit from massage therapy. Horses get regular massages, as do dogs, cats, and even snakes, but I won’t go there! What experiences have you had massaging animals? And what behaviors did you notice? I hope to get to Borneo one day to maybe massage an orangutan!
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