Our train arrived in Lopburi in the early afternoon, and we only planned to stay there for one night. With Tim having a 14-day visa, we could not take it as slowly as we normally prefer travelling, but we hoped that we would see what we came for. And what is Lopburi famous for? Monkeys! Thousand of macaques live freely in this city, on the roofs, over the power cables, on the side walks, absolutely everywhere, fed and tolerated by the locals. There are so many that everyone (hotels included) have cages outside their windows so that they can open them without inviting trouble in, and businesses either have their doors closed or someone stationed on the door frame with a long broom to keep the little buggers at bay.
We have encountered many of these species in our trip, but none as cheeky and confident as the ones in Lopburi. We found a hotel easily and set out to explore shortly afterwards. Only a block away, we entered the monkey temple. It is an older temple where these creatures get fed by the town and by tourists, and is therefore swarming with them. Hint: They have no fear, they have no shame.
The macaques climb on your back as if you were their playground. Most are nice and kind and just hang out. Others want to eat anything you have that looks like food: In my case, my hair clips were the first to go. We had brought peanuts, so I negotiated to get my yellow pin back by exchanging it for real food (it worked). Our walking/selfie stick suffered from their bites – they had to try the foam to make sure it wasn’t edible. The worst didn’t want to go down, and fought against any attempts at freedom, leaving their marks behind. I got one or two scratches, but the worst one was a smaller one that would not come down. Tim was trying to make him but instead, he grabbed my hair and swung from side to side, avoiding Tim attempts. I am sure it looked hilarious, but it was rather painful. We nonetheless hung out with them for quite some time, until we were beyond dirty and a bit tired of playing trees…
Monkeys are not the only creatures that inhabit this holy place. We went inside the temple for a respite and found a bunch of resident bats having a nap. We also fed some of the smaller monkey through the bars.
We returned to our caged hotel for a shower and a small load of washing, hoping it would dry by the morning. Later on we wandered the streets trying to avoid making eye contact with the monkeys, but without any clear goal. We encountered a few ruins and some pretty temples (getting the pattern?), along with a few scenes of macaques trying to steal stuff from the locals. For dinner we indulged ourselves and ate some amazing burgers with chips. I love Asian food but a respite every so often is needed…
The next morning we woke up and went to open the window. There was a monkey just hanging out there wearing female underwear -yet, you read correctly. Hilarious. When we got up, she extended his hand to us, expecting tribute. We only had a few peanuts left, and we indulged her. As soon as that happened, a bigger male with huge balls came about and expelled the first one to take his place at the receiving end of the food. We had run out by then, and we offered him water instead. Tim thought that the silly creature would try to make the bottle fit through the bars, but he did not do such a thing. He looked at him trying to figure out who was the stupid one after all, and simply opened his mouth and waited for the water to be poured into it. Needless is to say it was a beautiful and heart warming spectacle, and we did this activity for a while, once the first one got bored and others approached for a sip of water, including a very little one.
We eventually had to call it quits and walk towards the bus station. We took a local bus to get us closer, as we had a long day of travelling ahead. As per instructions from the info centre at the railway station, we first took a bus to a transport hub sort of place (forgive that I have forgotten the name) and then a minibus the rest of the way to Mae Sot, the border with Myanmar.
It was already dark when we arrived, so we took a room in a hotel adjacent to the bus station. We did not like the vibe of the place much so Tim left early the next morning to find us a better place. After walking for almost two hours, he ended up finding a perfect place… 50 mts from where we were. The new place was slightly cheaper, and had a beautiful and spacious wooden room with an attached bathroom: luxury! We indulged in quite a bit in our new vice: Ice mocca
After moving so fast and seeing so much in the previous two weeks, we took it really easy in Mae Sot. The town is quite small and peaceful. It does have one of the most beautiful temples I have seen thus far, with small silver mirrors attached to the walls reflecting the light and causing quite a gorgeous spectacle and a collection of golden stupas.
A few days later we approached the Burmese market trying to find a truck to take us to the border. The market offers all sorts of animals westerners don’t consider food: crickets, roaches, turtles, etc. We asked around and a man eventually walked us to the songthaew that would take us to the crossing himself to make sure we would make it. Once the transport was full (with people hanging out the back and all) we were on our way. We got stamped on the Thai side and walked across the friendship bridge and into Myanmar…