Friday, February 19, 2010

Thailand: Monkeys in Lopburi

Lillian and I left for Thailand a couple of weeks ago to have some fun on the beach and then take a slow train north to Chiang Mai and visit towns along the way that interest us. We’re into week three already but last week we came to a town called Lopburi. It’s a mid-sized, busy place 300 km north of Bangkok and has some very old ruins dating from the 11th century. We got off the train down town and found a hotel room on the 4 corners of the city. It was noisy and the room was 2nd rate but it had air con and a toilet and shower. Deluxe! It had no soap or shampoo but luckily we had brought some from the last place we had stayed in. The windows to our room were caged on the outside and we soon found out why. We heard a funny noise outside and pulled the curtains and there were three grey monkeys looking at us. In fact the monkeys were all over that part of town and we found out that Lopburi was known (beside the amazing ruins) for its wild monkey population, which numbered in the hundreds. During the day they climbed along hydro lines, down sidewalks, sometimes trying to grab pedestrian’s shopping bags, and up building walls to sit on window ledges. Being Buddhists, the local population would not harm them and put up with them while the monkeys brought in more tourist dollars as bus loads came up from Bangkok to see the ruins AND the monkeys.

The most eerie part was at night, as the monkeys all went to sleep on top of and along the walls of Lopburi’s most famous and oldest ruin, the Three Connected Towers. Shades of Kipling’s Jungle Book where in one story Mowgli gets kidnapped and taken to the ancient ruins where the monkeys reside. I just remember it as a scary story. Lopburi’s three towers were fenced and gates locked at night, as it was NOT a place where the monkeys would make someone feel welcome either, just as in Kipling’s book.

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