Monkeying around (and other monkey puns)

Before you start reading this post, I dare you to head to google image search and type in “Lopburi Thailand.” I’m almost certain that your first 20 hits will likely include pictures of monkeys. Why? Because Jonathan and I now live in what our cab driver called the “monkey city of Thailand.”

When we first stepped off our bus to check out Old Town this past weekend, Jonathan and I are immediately taken aback by how many monkeys we saw. The streets are just crawling with them. It’s hard not to be on edge around a new species of animals that are unpredictable and known to steal purses and sunglasses. It’s just such a funny experience.

Macaques around the temple sign

The monkeys, which are crab-eating macaques, are respected by the people of Lopburi in a  very unique way.  Apart from the live monkeys that roam in bands around Old Town, there are temples, statues, souvenirs, photos, even festivals devoted to the monkeys of Lopburi. They’re impossible to ignore, or even avoid, so it makes sense that a city full of Buddhists who wish to do no harm on any creature leave them alone, and even feed them.

Mother and baby macaques in the streets

The main focal point of Old Town Lopburi is the Prang Sam Yot. It’s a Khmer temple that was once Hindu and has now been converted to a Buddhist temple. Each of the three prangs were built to represent the three Hindu gods– Brahma, Vishnu, and Shivi. It’s beautiful and (of course) teeming with monkeys.

The three prangs of the Prang Som Yot temple in Old Town

Our second site of the day was to visit the shrine across the street from the temple. We took a step inside long enough to see people praying, bringing food offerings, and moving about. I’m not sure if it was bad form to snap a photo, but I thought it was incredible and something worth sharing. My tiny bit of research online says the statue at the front is a four-armed Vishnu figure fixed with a Buddha head on top. Thanks to my liberal arts education, I remember reading an article in an Asian Religions 101 class about how much of Southeast Asia has a diverse mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism. It’s obviously something to read more into before I act like any expert.

Inside the phra kahn shrine in Lopburi

Outside of the shrine is, again, a monkey playground. There are swings and ladders and trees and rocks for the monkeys to play on and amuse visitors. There are also tons of signs about holding tight to your belongings. (We saw a monkey snatch an ice cream cone from a child’s hand. It was something out of a film).

Jonathan looking timid in the monkey feeding area

A macaque nomming on a melon

Outside of the temple

Awkward selfie. We were sweating in the heat and humidity.

We had a great time monkeying around in Old Town and plan to go back soon.

Obviously the best photo of the day

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