Friday, January 13, 2017

ON MONKEY BUSINESS IN LOPBURI - THAILAND

Wat Mahathat
Bangkok Post newspaper had a small article that another one of the famous monkey feeding sessions would be held at the temples in Lopburi, so I decided to take my second ever train ride in Thailand. This time taking the 8:30 train from Bangkok to Lopburi, which was due to arrive at 10:29. The price for the ticket was 374 Baht in Second class with A/C. Nice train, though somewhat worn over the years. To my surprise most of the people on the train where tourists. I really thought I would be going with a lot of locals, but it was mostly Americans and Europeans around me. And, they all went for the monkey feed!  I initially really planned to go to Lopburi to see a few temples which I had missed on my first 3 visits, so the monkey feeding business was just an additional feature of the day. And I must say, I really don't like monkeys...aggressive monkeys that is! So, after arriving in Lopburi, I decided to give the temples my priority (since they were empty and the weather was perfect) and instead showed up at the end of the feed at the monkey sites!

So, in perfect light I enjoyed Wat Mahathat, the largest of the Khmer temples all by myself and all of the other temples as well. It was entrance free period, since the late King had died and all the entrance fees to the parks were waved. Lopburi is a perfect town to walk around and see all the sights in the city and on this trip I visited a few smaller Khmer ruins which I had not seen before like Wat Nakhon Kosa, across the rail tracks, San Phra Karn, where most of the monkey business is happening and of course Sam Phra Yod, where most of the tourist head to. 

The feeding of the monkeys was just about to come to an end at Sam Phra Yod temple. A few tables were still there and a few of the small trucks loaded with food were parked around the temple. If I recall correctly they did 4 monkey feeds at various locations around town. 

Wat Nakhon Kosa
Besides a small old town along the river, there are several shrines and temples spread out over the town which are all withing walking distance. So, in a few hours I had seen everything and the heat of the day was just too much, so I decided to head back to the railway station to look for an earlier departure than my scheduled. train at 17:28, which would have brought me back to Bangkok at 19:25.  Unfortunately I had already purchased my return ticket at 374 Baht, so I had no option but to skip it all together and take the earlier slow train at 14:39 for 50 Baht, but this one did not come with seat assignments. So, entering the train with a bunch of Thai families who already position themselves on both sides of the track strategically and what felt like hundreds of tourists, did not leave many options for seats. I got lucky and shared my bench with a nice guy from Switzerland who also wanted to look out the window and take photos, while all the other windows were blocked by the metal blinds. 

The closer we got to Bangkok the more often the slow train did not even move at all and we were standing on the tracks waiting for other trains coming our way, in the brute heat of the afternoon sun with no A/C and no wind coming in from the windows. We were finally all moved out of our train and had to cross the tracks to another platform where we were loaded into the train coming from Nakhon Ratchasima. All announcements were only made in Thai of course, so most tourists looked a bit lost and we all just followed each other. The scheduled arrival time of 18:00 was of course not met at all and we actually came in later than had I taken the original train from Lopburi. However, we did not know that that train with A/C and seat assignments would also be late. But the return trip was a very long and sweaty one.


Prang Sam Yod




San Phra Karn

Lots of places to visit in Lopburi

Devastan Prang Khaek

Wat Sao Tong Thong







Wat Manichan Lakhan

Stranded and waiting for another train
 

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