December 31: We spent New Years Eve Day in the Chiang Dao region, a mountainous area near Chiang Mai. We began with Elephant Training Camp, then floated on a bamboo raft down the river, then had lunch at the Orchid Farm.
This was the elephant and riders just behind us. We presumably looked the same.
The ride involves wading the river - very low in the dry season - part of the way.
As befits a tropical jungle path, the vegetation was incredibly lush.
After the ride, the elephants are fed bunches of bananas for positive reinforcement.
They are then marched into the river ...
... for cooling and cleansing.
The elephants and their mahouts put on a show of hauling and stacking big logs, which was their main role in the past.
Finally, one of the elephants - handed brushes dipped in appropriate colored paint - paints a picture of a tree with green grass and red leaves.
We then boarded a bamboo raft for an hour's leisurely poled float down the river.
This is how the scene looked from a suspension bridge as we were entering Elephant Training Camp.
Grasses on the river bank.
An old man, fishing with a net, waved and smiled.
We had lunch at the Orchid Farm, and afterward wandered among rows of beautiful orchids in great variety.