During a lull in the rain this morning (it has been pouring non-stop since we got here), we rode to the center of Lopburi to see what the town is most famous for: wild monkeys living a life of luxury in the middle of the city:
They roam the streets wreaking havoc wherever they go, swinging from power lines, jumping between moving cars, chewing holes through banners, advertisements and literally anything else they can get their little hands on. When we arrived, there was one clinging to a car's antenna, gnawing on the brightly colored toy at the top. A bit further down the road, a bunch of them were running up a shop's awning and then sliding down, repeating the process over and over again.Cheeky monkeys!
Apparently, the monkey god, Hanuman, is revered around here, so instead of chasing the primates away, treating them like nuisances, townspeople pretty much let them rule the roost. They even provide food to eat, and on special occasions, full banquets to devour.
When they aren't being served by the townspeople, they make do with food from tourists. Local hawkers surround the temple area, selling bananas and other goodies specifically for the monkeys. The most memorable sales pitch was an old lady with a pile of fruit, beckoning to us repeatedly, "If you feed the monkeys they will love you more!"
They were pretty aggressive as it was… we're not sure we want to be loved more, lady!
As Tara was taking photos, one of them pounced onto her back. She doesn't generally enjoy having wild animals mere inches away from her face. Even though the little guy was just trying to groom her, she freaked out a little. Eventually, with some coaxing, the monkey chose a new perch.
The most endearing aspect of the visit was the monkeys' tightly-knit family structures. We saw baby dudes hitching a ride on their parents' backs, hanging from their fronts, snuggling with their mom and dad, and suckling them too.
We love these faces! Their eyes are so soulful and human. We think they look like ancient people, or very young babies.
Our bicycles were a big hit. At first, the monkeys approached our steeds like they owned them, filled with unabashed curiosity. Their exuberant inquisitiveness didn't last long; it transformed to wide-eyed terror when our bikes began to wobble under their weight.
Each time this happened, we would prop them up once more, and the whole game would begin anew. After a few rounds of this, they seemed to have the rules figured it out, because they started pushing on a toppled bike, trying to right it themselves!
They liked our downtube shifters:
…and the taste of Tyler's handlebar tape:
They loved Tara's comfy Brooks saddle:
…and they tried to eat our compass: