Another flight connection in Thailand meant another chance to finally get round to things I'd pointlessly missed out the last six or seven times I passed through immigration's revolving doors. The monkey infested historical town of Lopburi was one of them, and you could ask why this wasn't my first destination in Thailand back in February '11, and why I haven't been living here permanently in the nineteen months since.
Oh yeah. That's why.
I'm sure I read a vague account of some local macaques helping to put out a fire or doing other heroic actions in Lopburi's Old Town a few hundred years ago, which earned them their current free reign, but the internet doesn't back me up on that. They're just there.
I'm pretty sure the locals could get rid of them without feeling much guilt if they wanted, based on how I've seen animals treated in other parts of Thailand, and it's not like they're kept just for the tourists, as this place fortunately doesn't seem to be a major stop on the banana pancake trail yet. With dilapidated, ancient temples, great scenery nearby and monkeys having amusing sex on your balcony though, I have no idea why that's the case. This is the best tropical town overrun with monkeys I've visited since Ubud in Bali.
It's a slightly tense peace that sees the monkeys nonchalantly allowing kids to yank their tails without retaliating, as long as they can raid the condiments tray of the outdoor restaurants every couple of hours and tear open the shopping bags of inexperienced visitors when they forget to hide them under their T-shirts as they exit shops, but as much as the town's hairier residents amuse me, I don't think I could live here full-time. Not if I wanted to wear my glasses and see anything when venturing outside my caged accommodation, which I very soon discovered was a big mistake after entering the main temple. Never mind, I was long overdue for an eye test and new glasses anyway.
Phra Prang Sam Yot
The city's central and most impressive temple, the monkeys have long since claimed it as their own. Entering the gates and approaching the macaque-laden monuments themselves is like walking through an L.A. riots era ghetto (I imagine), so you need to be prepared for some aggressive macaq-tion. This is their territory.
Someone's limping home today
They even nicked some poor sod's barrel
This wasn't entirely unpleasant, though I could have done without the biting.
Still, I won't knock some free grooming
He even left a little something of himself behind.
Could have been worse, at least I didn't get a 'happy ending'
Heading inside the ruins, where the monkeys aren't allowed, you get some respite from the biting and can also experience what it might be like to be a caged monkey as the families peer in and poke you. It's actually quite intimidating
There were plenty of other nice ruins scattered around, but the monkeys didn't seem as attached to those, and I wasn't really in the mood for Khmer heritage. Not when there were 'hilarious' photo opportunities of monkeys seeming to superficially act like people
Ha ha, look - it's like he's riding it and is capable of understanding the concept of the internal combustion engine. Classic!
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing - what's the point of having a zoo when the funniest animals are already roaming free in the city? Not much point, it turns out. But this place was inexplicably free to enter and there at least weren't any depressing chained elephants or guys beating the shit out of crocodiles this time, so it was a nice place to kill 30 minutes.
A childish day out again again again again again again again again again
Jesus Christ, what happened to you?
This hog deer was eating poo
This one was having a bit of trouble
Rise of the planet of the crab eating macaques