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Can you imagine 200 elephants thundering down, organized in two opposing battle groups. After the opposing lines of elephants meet and engage in combat the remaining soldiers dismount and fight in hand to hand combat, re-enacting a legendary battle of some hundreds of years ago.

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William Jarvis mounted on an elephant, seated in a classic wooden saddle watching the festivities. The first part of the animal festivities pits a series of eighty foot soldiers against a single elephant in a tug of war!

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Each elephant has a trainer who makes a career of living with that elephant. They bring their elephants from far and near to participate in the grand elephant roundup. This event is held annually and is probably still going on.



Here are some definitely curious items to add to this narrative. The elephant roundup in Thailand and boating in some unspoiled regions of the Amazon are two fun experiences and may still be available to you if they strike your fancy as they do mine.

Annual Elephant Roundup
Surin, in North Eastern Thailand

From Bangkok it is a several hour train ride to Surin in North Eastern Thailand to reach the field of battle for the elephant roundup.

Two opposing phalanxes of elephants charge toward one another in a truly thundering re-enactment of an ancient battle, a real earth shaking experience.

After the festivities in Surin, I teamed up with a professional photographer from BBC and we took a boat into several of the river cities near Bangkok which housed Buddhist temples. The interior walls of these temples carried meaningful and beautiful paintings which had been done in the 19th century by master painters. Due to the humidity of the tropics these paintings were fast fading away and disappearing forever. I suspect most are gone by now. Our mission was to photograph them so as to save their precious images. I never saw the resulting photo essays but they are undoubtedly the only source today of information on these unique paintings.

From Thailand, the photographer and I travelled together to the Philippines to cover events there, but this narrative doesn’t have room for all such adventures interesting as they are


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