The King's Cup Elephant Polo - headed off early from home north to Chiang Saen on the mighty Mekong River, then up to Sop Ruak, to where 3 countries -Thailand, Burma & Laos - meet mid-stream in the Mekong. Starving we grabbed a quick Thai lunch overlooking the Mekong before heading to the Anantara Resort for the game.
Its quite a buzz to arrive to see elephants rather than polo ponies, mahout rather than grooms. There's a web-site if you wish to learn more on the game - size of the ground, number of chukkas, handicaps, rules in general....so I want go into the detail here. Apart from that it was 'very polo' - all the Geoffreys, Russels, James & Hamishes (no Fred's, Jim's....) were there, all pronounced with an English accent that was music to the ears. Viewing areas built from bamboo & teak - great feel; exceptionally comfortable seating; great music.....overall a good feel. Moet were sponsoring a team & 'hats off', they plied free champagne to all present, all afternoon. EXCELLENT!
We spent some time with the elephants between chukkas; 'close encounters' stuff. To see these guys 'swimming' in the river with just their trunk visible is a knock-out! And yes, of course, Moana was soon bareback atop one of these beasts.....what a pity she didn't have a change of clothing when a quick swim was proposed!
The polo, especially the final was great fun. The elephants 'fairly motor' (love the Okerisms) about the pitch; polo stick length varies greatly according to elephant size. There's an advantage in having previously played polo.....& the Moet flows!
Prize-giving is another memorable moment - one (yes its very English) has the chance to mingle mid-field with the players & elephants whilst waiters tempt 'one' with complimentary beers &, of course Pimms. Its an amusing moment to drop one's guard for an instant & find an elephant's trunk trying to take your beer, your camera or simply resting its trunk on your head!