ELEPHANT VILLAGE, Kingdom of Thailand --
Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 experienced a unique part of Thai culture during a recreational tour Feb. 22.
The tour consisted of an elephant ride, a lesson on how silk is collected from silk worms and made into cloth, and a sampling of local fruit.
“This tour was an absolute blast,” said Staff Sgt. Jason R. Dobos, a section leader with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU. “It highlighted a different side of Thai culture than you don’t normally see.”
Participants got to feed the elephants bananas and pose for photographs with them. The most popular elephant was just four months old; almost everyone in attendance either fed it or took a picture with it.
When the tour had concluded, everyone had a smile on their face, as well as something to talk about and remember for a lifetime.
“Overall I had a great time,” said Petty Officer Third Class Class Harkins, an air traffic controller aboard the USS Essex (LHD 2). “You would never have the opportunity to do any of this stuff in the United States.”
Harkins went on to say that he recommends the tour to anyone interested, and looks forward to the opportunity to go on more tours like this one next year.
Service members were enjoying some much deserved liberty at the conclusion of the 30th annual Cobra Gold exercise. For three decades, Thailand has hosted Cobra Gold, one of the largest land-based, joint, combined military exercises in the world.
Cobra Gold started out as a bilateral exercise, but has since grown to include Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea as full participants and dozens of other countries as official observers.