by Jane de Leon
(Taytay, Rizal, Philippines )
Humm!, what to eat next?
You could stay overnight and book in one of the hotels in the vicinity or you can opt for a day tour. What make Lopburi famous are its more than 2,000 residents who freely roam the streets of Lopburi & “monkey around”.
These residents hang on phone lines, cross streets, grab snacks from other locals and tourists, rummage through your pockets, or even hold hands with you.
These residents are famous and they bring in good trade that a local businessman named Yongyuth Kitwatananuson started the tradition of honoring these locals twenty years ago.
The “Lopburi Monkey Festival” is held annually on the last weekend of November. The Macaque monkeys are offered a buffet of scrumptious fruits and sweets, ice cream, and more as a way of thanking them for the prosperity they bring to the town!.
The monkeys were not always living in the city. They used to live outside the city limits but the group dispersed and a new group formed and decided to live in the ruins of Wat Pra Prang Sam Yot Temple.
As time went by the monkeys became more familiar and daring & started to venture out of their sanctuary. They are now part of Lopburi’s local culture. It is indeed fascinating to see monkeys adapt to urban living.
Last year, there was much fun fare to celebrate the monkey festival. A parade was held through town, cultural shows were lined up and the streets were filled with locals and tourists alike as they watch the parade and mingle with the monkeys.
Vendors selling food and souvenirs can be seen everywhere hawking their wares. There were 20 chefs who “cooked up” a lot of food for the “monkey” buffet. It was reported that about 2 tons of fruits andvegetables, grilled sausages, ice cream jelly and milk were prepared for the more than 2,000 Macaque monkeys.
About 20 different kinds of fruits were spread out in the buffet. However the monkeys were very partial to the exotic durian fruit. For those who are not familiar with the fruit, it’s a fruit with a really distinctive odor that seem to permeate from the intact husk. Eating durian is an acquired taste and the Lopburi monkeys sure love this fruit!.
The monkeys could be a handful as they have the freedom to traipse about town: snatching food and bags from onlookers and passers-by; darting in and out of buildings; wreaking havoc and maybe a lot of mess in terms of bodily discharge. But nobody blames the monkeys? As the locals say, they bring prosperity to the town.