I spent about ten days in the town of Surin in Thailandthat was definitely the best part of the assignment. There was an elephant festival going on, and I'd never been around elephants before. In addition to giving tourists rides on the animals, the festival organizers stage an elephant banquet where they feed the animals fruit and palm leaves. We got a chance to watch the elephants running, but we never did get to see them playing elephant soccer, which they have reportedly been trained to do as well.
The most fascinating thing to observe was the relationship between elephant and mahout (trainer); it's a complex one that evolves from the time both are very young.
Thailand is an amazing part of the world. The people were greatvery welcoming and friendly. It was just a really fun trip.