When you exit the station in Lop Buri, Thailand, the first thing you notice is the monkeys. The whole area is ruled by a street gang of thieving monkeys that stalk visitors from above, creeping along roof tops and power lines just waiting for the opportunity to make off with anything and everything they can get their grubby little hands on.
My friend and I were on a train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and we decided to hop off in Lop Buri for an hour or two to check out a temple near the train station. My friend was hungry and I was thirsty, so we ducked into a convenience store. She bought a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and I got a bottle of water.
The second we stepped outside, the monkeys had us in their sights. Before we even knew what was happening, a monkey had jumped on my friend and had basically taken her sandwich out of her mouth. I don’t think she even managed a single bite. Then the monkey sat down right in front of us and enjoyed his lunch.
When my friend made like she was going to take it back, the monkey let out a loud shriek and bared its fangs like some genetically mutated, rabid animal from one of those ‘animals mutate and take out an entire town except for the newly arrived divorced dad, the local cute girl he falls in love with, his two children and their dog’ movies—you know the ones with a single animal name in the title (“Python!” or “Spiders!” or “Mosquitos!” and the one I’ve been waiting on for years: “Cows!”).
I suppose I could have tried to help her, but I was much too busy laughing hysterically and once I calmed down, I obviously had to take pictures. While I was distracted with my photography, a sneaky little monkey jumped on me and pulled my newly purchased bottle of water out of my pocket. Luckily, it was cold and covered in condensation, which made it hard for the little pickpocket to keep a tight grip. He sat down ten meters from me and started working on getting the cap open. This gave me a chance to chuck a rock in his direction, which sent him scampering off without the bottle. Monkeys 1 — humans 1.
From that point on, we were much more careful. The monkeys, realizing this, changed tactics as well. Now, a few of them would dart toward us from one direction to distract us, while another one would jump us from behind and grab hold of anything they could. My camera bag was a favorite. They tried to grab it over and over again, but clearly did not understand the concept of a shoulder strap. Stupid monkeys.
At one point, my friend let out a scream behind me and I turned around to see a monkey sitting on her head. Literally on top of her head. I really wish I had a picture of this, but since she was less than happy with me for laughing at and photographing her first encounter, I decided to try and help her this time. Of course, my help amounted to little more than saying, “Just……push him…” and then laughing. A lot.
After that incident, we stayed near a Thai tour group. We noticed that the tour guide had a long stick he would use to keep the monkeys at bay and as a result they kept their distance. Once we had a little protection, we were able to appreciate the monkeys a little more, especially the families with their ridiculously cute babies. Of course, like all little babies who grow up in gang territory, we knew these, too, would eventually join the other thieving monkeys in a life of petty street crime.