When we arrived in Lopburi, there were monkeys everywhere. They sat on the railroad tracks, huddled atop walls and ran across streets. It was a monkey frenzy. If I were the screaming type, I would have done it right then and there.
They look cute. Our guide told us monkeys have no discipline. Remove anything shiny and hide your food.
Sunglasses, jewelry, and dangling things are irresistible. Monkeys are curious. They’ll jump on your back or your pack in a moment.
Inside, the temple was dark. I didn’t pay much attention to it. I saw a drop of moisture fall from the ceiling as we walked out the front door. It wasn’t raining or humid. It was pee. I was certain there were critters up above, but I couldn’t see any. Later, I’d learn both bats and rats call this temple home.
Most of the Excitement Was Outside
Howe had a monkey on his arm as he fed it a banana and another on his shoulder. Pat had two monkeys atop her head. When the third hopped on, she’d had enough. One pulled at her long, dark hair, attracted to her barrette.
Another grabbed the end of Howe’s lens. Oh, hold mine, too! That would make such a good photo. The poor thing was a little peeved as I jerked away when two monkeys jumped on my back. I forgot I wore a sparkly barrette that day.
We loved every minute of it, except for that close touching on my part. I didn’t want monkey germs. Taisa got bit, but it didn’t break the skin.
Here’s the kind of monkey business we saw on the day we visited. Notice the monkey hygiene. Monkeys are not known for their hand washing.
What I Didn’t Know Before We Went
How to Avoid Monkey Bites and Attack
Read about avoiding monkey bites and attack if you plan to visit. Those sweet little monkeys can quickly change moods.
- Avoid smiling at them. Showing teeth is a sign of threat and aggression.
- Don’t play tug of war. Let go of something as soon as a monkey grabs it. Chances are they will examine it and drop it.
- Don’t offer food. Food offered to one and not to another might cause that other to attack.
- Don’t show fear. Monkeys follow a well established caste system.
- Be careful taking pictures. A monkey seeing its own reflection in your lens might trigger an attack.
Staying healthy is important. If you’d rather throw caution to the wind, skip this section and read about the annual monkey party below. This article from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sites the Monkey Temple at Lopburi to be a high-risk source for cross-species transmission of infectious agents, monkey-to-man. Yeah, ack! Monkey germs. After all, we’ve got similar genetic, physiological and behavioral characteristics. Be wise. Stay safe.
- Avoid monkey bodily fluids: saliva, nasal secretions and feces.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth—the portals of disease transmission—during or after monkey encounters.
- Bites and scratches are another way primate fluids can enter your system – wash or soak the site for 15 to 20 minutes with warm soapy water if either of these occur. This requires medical attention. See a doctor who will probably start antibiotics.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water after your visit and before eating or drinking anything.
If your wound is major, it becomes infected or you feel ill, see a doctor. Have your physician call NCEZID, National Center for Emerging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at 800-232-6348 24hr/day 7 days/week. Read more about monkey diseases here.
How to Get There
The Monkey Temple is a part of the itinerary for the SmarTours Amazing Thailand tour and is also reachable by train. I wouldn’t visit here as a sole destination, but if you’re passing through and haven’t seen monkeys, you’ll see them here. The stop is short. You can check the times and cost of a train ticket here.
The Annual Monkey Festival
The town has an annual monkey festival the last weekend of November where a banquet is put out to honor the monkeys that bring prosperity to the town. Buffet tables are laid out with peanuts, cabbage, watermelon, bananas, pumpkin, pineapple, boiled eggs and cucumbers. Locals donate food for the event with the belief that it will bring them good fortune. The festivities are centered around the Monkey Temple located north of the train station.
Phra Prang Sam Yot (The Monkey Temple), originally a Hindu shrine, has three spires (prangs) that represent Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (the Hindu trinity). It was later converted to a Buddhist shrine.
What’s your experience with monkeys on vacation?
image and video credits: A Lot of Monkey Business ©2014 Marie LaForce