In pictures: The monkeys and ruins of Lopburi
SLEEPY Lopburi, Thailand, is one of the oldest cities in the country. Ruins from wats, or temples, more than a thousand years old stand proudly in the small city, a testament to the Lopburi of long ago. These days, however, the primary reason to visit Lopburi is to observe the packs of long-tailed macaques that roam the streets freely and pick the pockets of unsuspecting tourists.
While wandering the town, small monkeys will jump on your back, yank at your clothes, and open your bag to see if you have any food they might nab. Stand outside a convenience store, one of their favorite haunts, and watch them steal into the shop while the owner isn’t looking and emerge with a packet of food that they carry off to eat in an alley. Droves of the macaques will run out into the street, seemingly heedless of traffic, while onlookers smile in amusement or tsk in annoyance at the primates’ audacity. If you want to see the monkeys at their mischievous best (or worst), head to the Lopburi Monkey Festival held every year on the last weekend of November.
Seeing their brazen behavior and the ways they interact with one another – at turns fighting, feeding or fornicating – is reason enough to spend an afternoon in Lopburi. But the beautiful ruins are also something to behold. While not as impressive as those in Ayutthaya or Sukhothai, the grounds of the ancient structures here are haunting, nonetheless, and elegant despite all their years of standing against the elements.
Casey Hynes is a writer, editor and photographer living in Beijing, China. A 2008 graduate of Columbia Journalism School in New York City, she has been published in Roll Call, The Wall Street Journal and numerous publications in China. You can see samples of her work and photography at caseyhynes.com.