Monday, November 26, 2007

Lopburi Monkey Festival

I spent this past weekend in the town of Lopburi. There were a few reasons I was happy to be in Lopburi. One was for purely social reasons. Also, I had never visited Lopburi before even though it's a pretty quick bus/van/train ride from Bangkok. Last but not least, I wanted to see the yearly Lopburi Monkey Festival.

As always I sniffed around looking for good food. I was not disappointed. As I have said before on this blog, the food is always remarkably good outside of Bangkok. In Lopburi, I didn't have anything out of the ordinary, just consistently good food. There was a lot of hoi tod (miscle omelette) around, so I had to indulge.

Hoi tod is kind of a hit or miss dish for me. Cooked at too low of heat, it becomes a greasy, soggy mess. Done right, it is a real treat.

Hoy thod is made with tapioca flour, egg, and mussles. It's topped off with bean sprouts, cilantro, and sweet chili sauce.

I was happy to find that in Lopburi there are an innordinate number of fantastic fruit shake stands. I washed my hoy thod down with a water melon smoothie.

Sunday morning brought tourists, journalists, families, and monekys together for a yearly celebration of the macaques that live in the town of Lopburi. Once a year they are treated to a royal feast of fruit and other delicacies.

Set up began at about 8:00 AM.

Monkeys started to gather. So did the people.

The monkeys were not intimidated by the police presence. They were only moderately deterred by the men wielding large sticks to keep them from crashing the feast early. A few succeeded in sneaking into the feasting grounds before they could be chashed out. A few sneaky monkeys made off with a handful of durian, an apple, a banana, or dragon fruit before the party even started.

Like the rest of us in the audience, the monkeys had to sit through parades, dances, speeches, and photo ops before they were allowed to gorge themselves.

At about half past ten, the men with sticks backed off and the monkeys descended onto the tables bearing a variety of fruit, bottles of water, and cans of pepsi.

I found it amusing to see the monkeys being served. The next day they would be hit with sling shots and chased out of the surrounding shops. Today would be their one day to be appreciated. Vermin they would be therafter.

There were certainly a lot of Monkeys, but there were also a lot of journalists.

After watching the monkeys enjoy their meal, my party decided it was time for ours.

We ventured just behind the temple to a duck noodle shop. I had bami and duck.

Not very good, but I followed it up with another delicious fruit shake.

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