Mar 02 2008

Won’t you take me to Monkey Town?

Published by at 1:37 pm under Monkey Town,Thailand

In high school, I once did a project for my Architecture class in which I submitted plans for a proposed town, which I christened Monkey Town. It was a poorly laid-out town with little thought given to any of the city-construction elements that we were probably supposed to be considering, but gave me a chance to draw monkeys climbing on things, which is what I really wanted to be doing with my precious time. I probably deserved an F, but my teacher was a good guy, and humored me with his decision that Monkey Town was an idea worth considering. Today, his eternal patience is vindicated. Monkey Town is alive and well, my friends. And it’s in Thailand.

Thai for “Monkey Town” must be “Lopburi”, which is a small town about about 100km north of Bangkok. It is only accessible by telling the train station attendant that you want to go to “Lope Boo-lee”, as opposed to the monkey-less town somewhere SOUTH of Bangkok whose name sounds exactly like the way a Westerner would pronounce “Lopburi.” Close call there.

When you step off the train in Lopburi, you know good things lie ahead as you are greeted by a giant golden statue of a howling monkey. But you don’t know how good until you make your way into town, and see your first free-living monkey swinging from a telephone line. The people of Lopburi make no visible effort to restrict the size or borders of the monkeys’ territory in town, but the monkeys have laid claim to an area with pretty clear parameters. I have no idea where these monkeys came from in the first place, but they must have been reminded of their original home when they first arrived in Lopburi and spotted two ancient temples, with a busy traffic intersection in between. They now fill their days by eating at one temple, napping at the other, and causing endless mayhem by sprinting back and forth through car and motorcycle traffic.

Maybe that’s an overly simplified description of the typical Lopburi monkey day. To be fair, the monkeys also chase tourists, hang from convenience store awnings, try to break into hotel rooms (which has forced all hotel owners to put bars over their windows), jump on telephone poles, and torment domesticated cats and dogs. Some even learn manners: when we were leaving one restaurant near the temples, a monkey sitting on the sidewalk opened and held the door for us.

Seeing is believing when it comes to Monkey Town, so please enjoy the following multimedia account of our two unforgettable days in Lopburi:

Monkey having fun on a telephone line in Lopbuli
Here’s the king of the telephone wire…

The king of the giant banana pile
…and the king of the giant banana pile!

Brittany gives a monkey a cool drink
Brittany gives a monkey a refreshing drink of water…

Monkey retreats to Buddha statue after stealing Brittany's water bottle
…and he steals the bottle and flees to a Buddha statue.

Monkeys love cool milk
The monkeys have learned how to open tasty milk bottles…

A monkey climbs Brittany!
…and how to climb girls to get to the shiny bangles on their purses! Once Brittany shook this guy off, he fought her for the purse, tug-of-war style. I’m sorry to say that I missed capturing that moment on camera because I was running over to help battle the little bugger.

Also, see what happens when a tourist buys food at a Lopburi snack bar…

…and check our our Flickr page and Vimeo page for more photos and videos of Monkey Town!

As hard as it may be to believe, there isn’t much else to do in Lopburi besides play with/laugh at/run from the monkeys, so after two days in town, it was time to head north to Chiang Mai. But here I fulfill a promise I made to a Buddhist monk inside one of the monkeys’ two temples, who urged me, “Tell you friends to come to Monkey City!” Dear friends: do come to Lopburi, where you can run and play with the best things that ever happened to the town’s hopes for a tourism-based economy. Just hold on to your purse…

Seriously, beware
NEXT: 1,000 Words »



3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Won’t you take me to Monkey Town?”

  1. Jodieon 04 Mar 2008 at 12:18 am

    You guys are such teases. Brittany – had dinner with your mom tonight. I was telling her that your blog is great. The downside is that its like having a really interesting novel at home – but only being allowed to read one or two pages every few days!


  2. Ben's Momon 07 Mar 2008 at 10:45 am

    Ben, I’m so happy for you – I know ‘Monkey Town’ was a ‘dream come true’. Now, if we could only figure out how to teleport a monkey!!

  3. Aoon 18 Mar 2009 at 9:42 am

    This page is great. I like it very much.

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