Lopburi, Thailand

Lopburi aka MonkeyTown aka Lavo is a human/macaque cohabitation some 150 kilometers north-east of Bangkok. It is a provincial capital and is home to over 20 000 people and two large hordes of Crab-eating macaques.

One pack of macaques spend their time between two temples just north of the city's train station: San Phra Kan in the day and Prang Sam Yot at night. The other pack, a ragtag squad of miscreants if ever there was one, are found on the rooftops, streets and alleyways near the aforementioned temples. These poor urban macaques must contend with the darker side of the normally animal loving Thais. In the mornings, store owners swing sticks in disgust and hire urchins armed with slingshots and nuts to discourage the more lively, and these are some lively acrobatic shit disturbers, from pooping all over the place and stealing food and random items. If a macaque sees you eating something it will engage you, be warned.

Sometimes the urban macaques, drawn to the ancient Hindu temple of San Phra Kan by the copious bananas and sunflower seeds doled out by tourists, will drop from the powercables and phonelines onto the temple grounds to snatch some bounty. Inevitably, this will result in a fanatical reaction by the more religious macaques and much biting, hissing, and displays of teeth ensue. The furious battles between the macaques occur in mad blurs which remind me of when I was nine and my older brother put two female rabbits, both in heat, into a hamster cage together.

Speaking of cages, one of the highlights of San Phra Kan is that there are barred doors and chicken wire over all its doors and windows. Humans can enter the guano drenched Hindu temple and feed the macaques from behind bars. Braver humans are welcome to feed the macaques mano a mano but this often results in a macaque leaping onto the human, which is terrifying. One weak grandmother, too weak to react let alone resist, pleaded with her grandchildren to remove a tenacious macaque that had wrapped itself around her arm in order to manipulate the zipper on her fannypack. The children were unsure what to do, and the old woman was buckling under the weight of the macaque when a tourist (not me) pulled the macaque off her. These are wild animals with sharp teeth.

Lopburi, incidentally, is also full of ancient Khmer temples, and unlike in the more famous Ayuthaya to the south and Sukothai to the north, the temples are interspersed among the Seven-Elevens and concrete buildings.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the size of the scrotums on some of these macaques. I'm not sure if it is a disease or something but many have huge red scrotums, some as large as a softball.

 

Sources:

Wikipedia told me how many people live in Lopburi

Lonely Planet got me there, told me where the temples were, and gave me bad hotel advice

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