Elephant Ride Banglung Cambodia
5th September, 2011
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We stayed at Lake View Lodge in June 2011 for three nights. The accommodation is average as is the restaurant. However, I would like to comment on the Elephant Ride which was arranged through THe Lake View Lodge's own tourist agency. Firstly we were taken by scooter to the village to begin the ride. The driver of my partner's scooter was driving much too fast and was sliding around in the mud, he asked several times for the driver to slow down but he did not and eventually the bike slipped again and both my partner and driver were thrown off the bike.
Once we arrived we were put on the elephant. The wooden seat was incredibly uncomfortable. However, the most cruel and distressing aspect of the elephan ride was how the elephant handler hit the elephant. He used a sharp axe hitting the elephant on the head very very hard with the sharp end of the axe, drawing blood. After this I asked that he did not hit the elephant, after the second time we asked to return home as this behaviour was not acceptable to us. As we didnt know where we were we had to go back on very scary scooter ride.
We then tried to find the english speaking owner Sophat to explain that the elephant ride experience was incredibly distressing for us both. However we could not find Sophat and there were no English speaking staff other than the owner's teenage son. We therefore did not have any opportunity to make a complaint to Sophat. I do not advise anyone to take this Elephant Ride and I am extremely disappointed by the Sophat Tours and Lake View Lodge.
#1 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 02:57
First time complainer on multiple forums.
#2 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 11:20
That may be but hitting an elephant on the head with an axe?!
That's worthy of a complaint and warning to me. I certainly don't want to be on an elephant treated like that. Well, in general people should realize that very crude methods are used to "train" the elephants. It may not always be visible but don't think that it doesn't happen just because you don't see it.
Anyway, it's not my kind of thing to use elephants in that way for my own pleasure. Having lived in African game parks for 2 years makes me biased though.
#3 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 11:36
Complaint to whom about whom though?
Sophat and his guesthouse are not to blame for the bad treatment of elephants. You can say "oh, they shouldn't promote this trip" (This isn't their trip. All guesthouses send their guests to the same place to ride elephants). They could take a stand (and watch their guests go elsewhere to organize the trip). Hard for a guesthouse charging USD4 a night to turn down cash though. Also it's an animal welfare vs. local livelihoods issue so the issue isn't totally cut and dry in my eyes.
#4 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 12:01
I wasn't referring to the guesthouse and you are right in a way and I may have put unclear that my complaint was only about the treatment of the elephants and not the guesthouse or Sophat sending people to it.
As for your last statement: It shouldn't be one versus the other. Local livelihoods can coexist with animals and if done well it can benefit both. With a good proper set-up elephant project local livelihoods can improve as well. Therefor it would benefit Sophat as well if he and other guesthouses would speak out on the subject.
#5 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 14:33
5th September, 2011
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Firstly Rasheed, the reply 'first time complainer on multiple forums' is completely unconstructive and I wonder why you bothered to write. But thank-you everyone else who has taken the time to think about this subject and reply constructively. It really has bothered me since we returned from Cambodia and it is benificial for me to think about it.
I dont agree that Sophat and his guesthouse are not to blame for the treatment, everyone involved in the tourist trade, ourselves included must take responsibility to ensure that the tourism is as ethical as possible. Of course this is not always possible but I feel that everyone involved should at least make an effort. It was for this reason that I wanted to speak to Sophat about how we felt. (P.S rasheed I dont know when you were last at Lake View but the nightly rate is now nowhere near 4 dollars per night). I felt and still feel that Sophat should be aware of the nature of the trip and as a business he should be looking into the specifics. Sustainable tourism to the villages in Cambodia is now big business and many travellers are ensuring that they only use tour guides who are interested in promoting the best interests of the village residents.
I would also like to point out that the best means of ensuring ethical tourism to to ask the right questions before. I am at also fault here because I did not has how the elephant is trained or managed.
I am also in contact with the Ministry of Tourism in Cambodia and have requested that they also take the issue further.
Thanks for all your comments. I hope that Sophat has access to this forum.
#6 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 15:56
Firstly Rasheed, the reply 'first time complainer on multiple forums' is completely unconstructive and I wonder why you bothered to write.
Because of the trend of first-time posters who, for many possible reasons, complain about a particular business and then are never to be heard from again. You came back.
P.S rasheed I dont know when you were last at Lake View but the nightly rate is now nowhere near 4 dollars per night
Was staying there early august. USD1 Dorm. USD3 shared bathroom. USD4-5 private bath. Did you have AC? Seems near USD4 to me.
I replied at greater length on one of your 5 thorntree posts.
I sent Sophat the link to one of the thorntree posts.
ps For full disclosure, I've known Sophat for many years and have stayed at Lakeview many times during that period.
#7 Posted: 5/9/2011 - 21:15
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