We took a two hour shuttle bus ride northeast (from Ayutthaya) to the small town of Lopburi. We met a Thai couple in Vang Vieng that told us to go to Lopburi if you want to see monkeys. McKayla, always looking for an excuse to see monkeys, jumped on the advice, stowed it in her phone and here we are. Lopburi is a sleepy little town dotted with ruins and teaming with monkeys. As soon as we got to our guesthouse (Noom Guesthouse), we opened the curtains to find 8 macaques playing on a roof just below our second story room. It only took about 15 minutes before McKayla became focused on finding the monkey temple, AKA Phra Prang Sam Yat. It was only a few blocks away from our guesthouse so naturally we had to visit it once a day for the three days we’d be in Lopburi.
The nickname Monkey Temple is well deserved. There was an army of macaques covering the temple, the temple grounds and all the buildings within a two block radius of the temple. While the bigger, older monkeys were content to gather tourists’ food or take it directly and run off, the younger monkeys enjoyed messing with the tourists. If you weren’t paying attention, they would sneak up behind you and start climbing up your leg. All around there were people fending off the little bastards. Some people were just allowing them to freely climb on their shoulders. On our first visit, we escaped into the enclosure of the temple, careful not to let in any of the monkeys prowling near the entrance. There were gated doors that some people sat and fed the monkeys through. Backwards of a zoo, humans were the ones in a cage while the monkeys roamed free. We got all the way to the end of the 100 ft, 3 tiered, stone temple to look up and realize that the ceilings were covered in bats. Well, here we are surrounded inside by bats and surrounded outside by monkeys; our travel doctor would not be happy. She warned that our two biggest threats for contracting rabies were – bats and monkeys.
Believe me, I was content with one visit to the monkey temple but not my lovely wife, she insisted on a once a day visit. In those three days, each of us had a monkey climb up our legs at least twice and I had the pleasure of having one of those filthy little monkeys pounce on my back as I was leaving the grounds. One did try to bite me through my pants but it was playful and thankfully he couldn’t get his way through my armor-like pick pocket proof pants.
The locals seem to be at constant war with their monkey population, yet they’re mostly Buddhists and can’t kill a living creature. However, it doesn’t stop them from arming themselves with sticks and chasing away aggressive monkeys. They also put up stuffed crocodiles outside their shops in hopes of scaring away any would be monkey thieves. When we went to the temple we made sure to not have any food or anything resembling food. You could see what happened to the people with food and unless you wanted to be mobbed by macaques, it’s better not to feed the little beasts. There was one instance on the streets of Lopburi where a larger male mistook my donut for his donut. He leapt onto a car and approached fast, I swung an empty paper bag at him and received a wide mouthed hiss in return. As I picked up the pace, a local with a stick started slapping the ground behind us and I quickly crammed the rest of the donut in my mouth. My donut you monkey asshole.
Our second day in Lopburi, we booked a nice afternoon tour that included four pretty unique sites. Our first stop was to the Buddha footprint of Thailand. They built an awfully big and fancy temple complex for a chunk of rock that resembled a footprint. Our next stop was to a beautiful sunflower field in bloom with some surrounding mountains for a backdrop. It was probably the best use we had of our $2 selfie stick, right before it broke. The peacock palace was next on our trip and yes, there were peacocks, lots of peacocks. After checking out the colorful birds, we hiked up a massive set of stairs to find a nice view and… a giant Buddha, always giant Buddhas. The last stop was definitely my favorite even through it required more patience than I’m normally willing or able to muster. We stood below a large cave entrance and waited for bats to make their nightly exit. It started with a small trickle of bats and quickly lead to a steady river of bats. McKayla was the only one in our group of seven who did not stand directly below the cave; good move, honey, she was the only one that completely avoided the steady drizzle of bat piss as they flew over. The stream, about 20 bats wide, continued for at least 30 minutes and when we left, there was no sign of the numbers dwindling. It was also pretty cool to watch a few birds waiting at the cave exit to grab themselves a little bat for dinner.
Lopburi was a refreshing change of pace from the rest of our Thailand experience. That and I’d finally had diarrhea long enough that it was safe to take some antibiotics which quelled my shitting in just half a day. Two and a half days of monkeys was charming, any more and an .22 would’ve started sounding like a really good idea. Looks like McKayla’s going to get one more train fix – Lopburi to Chiang Mai, 10 hours.