Monkey business in Lopburi
They came from the rooftops, sliding down drainpipes; from underneath cars; from everywhere so it seemed; But why? Why now? Are they planning on taking me hostage, for a ransom of bananas perhaps? I stood helplessly in the middle of the road as they made their advances, but it soon became clear they had something else more important on their mind, and it didn’t involve poxy tourists, it was feeding time in one of the designated areas. There are three of these areas which have been setup so the monkeys don’t go hungry, and start stealing food.
I’d only been watching them for five minutes, and I saw one jump through a bus window; one steal a bottle of water; and a whole bunch of them climbing all over some tourists, pulling his hair – it was the perfect moment for him to say “Get your hands of me you filthy ape”, to quote one of my favourite film series – Planet of the Apes. I don’t think many of the towns people like them from what I saw. One woman was even defending herself with a BB gun whilst opening her shop, yet the monkeys stay; Why? Because not only are they a tourist attraction bringing more money to the town, but the Buddhist monks believe they are of religious significance to remain.
Scattered around Lopburi are the remains of many temples and buildings dating back to the rise and fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Wondering around the ruins within the old palace of King Narai the Great, it was obvious that the town were making preparations for some sort of festival which I soon found out to be the King Narai Festival. Flowers of every colour you could image filled the grounds; man-made waterfalls sprang to life; sparkling lights decorated the trees; bamboo huts rose from the ground providing places to sit and relax; it was truly a magical sight. It didn’t stop within the palace either, food markets lined the outer wall providing so many different types of food, I didn’t care whether I was hungry or not, I was eating some.
I spent three days enjoying the festival where the focus was around the old Ayutthaya Kingdom with dances, and re-enactments of historical events performed around the ruins. They were doing elephant rides which I don’t think I’ll ever agree with. I thought it was cruel the amount of hours they had to work, and when they got restless they were beating them with sticks – bastards. Anyway, on the second night I met some Americans who like the ones in Morocco were taking part in a culture exchange with a local family. I wish I’d found such opportunity when I’d left school, but to be honest I was more interested in beer and girls at that age.
We hung out on and off over the weekend, and I watched them performing in the historical re-enactments, acting as their chief photographer. We also watched some kick-ass Muay Thai fight which was a first for me. On the last night I decided to go to bed earlier than usual as I was catching the first train five hours north to Phitsanulok. Before going to bed I packed my bag making a concerted effort to check no monkeys had sneaked in whilst I wasn’t looking. Come to think of it, maybe it would have been a good idea; it does get a bit lonely on the road from time to time.
Catch you all soon guys, take care.
Love Jonathan x
Backpackers Tips and Advice
If you’re interested in attending the next King Narai Festival , enquire at one of the TAT offices for dates as it changes from year to year.
The Inra Hotel is where I stayed for two hundred baht. If you turn right outside the train station, it’s along that road.