My weekend trip to the monkey town was a success! I left by minibus late on Sunday and got in around 8pm. I left to wander the streets and find a place to stay which was more dangerous than I had expected. Lopburi is famous for it's mischievous monkeys, but when the sun goes down the streets are filled with angry dogs. They're very territorial and will not only growl and bark but will get up and chase you. Frightening! I eventually found a hotel and got some sleep on a very uncomfortable mattress.
I woke up pretty early and set out to see the big Monkey temple, also known as Phra Prang Sam Yot. This is the temple you may have seen on Discovery channel or Animal Planet shows. It’s a giant Khmer temple up on a little hill with the city all around it and it’s crawling with Crab-eating Macaques. I got there super early so it was just me and my guide on the grounds. The guide told me a little about the temple as well as point out the oldest, fattest, and youngest monkeys. She also had a slingshot with her.
The ticket I bought gave me access to a couple other sights around the city so I also went to see the Ban Vichayen, the remains of the official ambassador’s residence. It was actually three large ruined buildings with lots of green space around which was great for walking in. Then I went to the Phra Kahn Shrine, “the site of a small shrine, the remains of a Khmer prang, a few stalls and lots of monkeys. The stalls sell offerings to be dedicated at the shrine, and food and drink. The monkeys eat the food, drink, offerings and anything else going. Good for a few photos. There are signs warning of purse-grabbing by the monkeys, but they appear docile if not provoked.” This was great because as I got there a guy was unloading a bag of milks for the monkeys and they had a big milk party. After that I took a motorbike far outside the city to Kraison Siharat which was a temple where King Narai went to watch lunar and solar eclipses in the 1680’s. By the time I got back from there, it was almost 4pm and time to meet up with Alex.
Alex did the languagecorps program with Ryan and me and has been teaching all semester in Lopburi. He just finished his classes and is gonna travel a bit before he goes home at the start of October. He was grading papers at school so I got to walk around the grounds while he finished. He taught at a gigantic high school and had 19 of his own classes. Yikes! I have 18 but they’re not nearly as large as his. We had a dinner at his usual after-work restaurant and I was back on my minibus to the city.
All in all, Lopburi was a very cool place. Aside from the monkeys, it was a lot like other smaller Thai cities I’ve visited. One thing I really enjoyed was the late afternoon before I got back into the minibus. I was able to soak in the last rays of sunshine on a clear day instead of the sun disappearing behind skyscrapers and into a massive dark cloudbank. One thing I feel I should mention is that..yes, I was bitten by a monkey. I took my eyes off a big ugly one for one second and it jumped up onto my plastic bag of monkey food and, in an effort to bite through the bag, got the tip of my finger. I’m currently being treated for monkeyitis and getting a series of injections at the hospital. I would be lying if I said this didn’t add that extra something to my trip that makes it extra memorable.
I went a couple different places before the monkey temple, but let's be honest, this is what you came to see
So many monkeys
The youngest monkey. Only 2 days old!
Later I went inside the prang and got some close-ups
At the old ambassador's residence. Considerably fewer monkeys.
At Kraison Siharat where King Narai went to view the eclipses.
At the Phra Kahn Shrine where this woman was constantly hitting pesky monkeys off the top of her souvenir stand. This is also where the monkeys had their milk party.
The milk party
The sun setting on another great day in the kingdom.