A Travellerspoint blog

Indonesia

Let Me Take You to Monkey Town

Where our ancestors still rule the ruins ;)

semi-overcast 31 °C
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Lopburi has lots of old Khmer style ruins and a royal palace that has been turned into a museum, but the biggest attraction – and at the same time biggest annoyance – by far, are the monkeys. They’re literally everywhere: on and around the ruins, on the electricity cables, the sidewalk, cars and even scooters. And though they look cute, trying to pet them is ill advised, because a) they steal your stuff, anything they can get their hands paws on, especially shiny things like glasses and b) they bite. They also attract a lot of tourists to town though, so Lopburi has a sort of love-hate relationship with them. Add to that the fact that these people are Buddhist and therefore not allowed to hurt any sentient living being (and that does include the monkeys) and you’ll understand it’s complicated.

Monkey taking a ride

Monkey taking a ride


They're really not afraid of us

They're really not afraid of us

So that’s why all around town you can find signs that warn tourists that feeding the monkeys is punishable by law, while at the same time they are fed every day at 10 and 16 at special feeding places to keep them from bothering the tourist. This is also why, if you want to go into the ruins, it’s advisable to take a guide with you. Not to show you the way, but because they carry a catapult and shoot at monkeys that come too close. While those same guides encourage you to feed the monkeys at the ruins, because the tourists find it fun. Complicated indeed.

Monkeys steal

Monkeys steal

Another advantage is that Lopburi is small so it’s easily doable to walk around town and see most of the sights in a morning. Even if you have to go back to the hostel because the ice coffee from the 7/11 turns out to be made with milk.

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet – the former royal palace – also houses a museum. Once again we saw lots and lots of Buddha’s but little else of interest. Actually, the museum building and its environment (the ruins) were more eye catching. We sort of stumbled onto Prang Khaek Sactuary and I was once again fighting off Tomb Raider associations.

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet ruins

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet ruins

The main attraction was the most interesting though, mostly because of the monkeys – that were everywhere – and the bats – that hung from the ceiling. We went back at 16 to see the feeding of the monkeys, but when the only thing that had happened by 16.15h, was that my arms were turning red, so we gave up and went back to the hostel.

Monkeys being fed

Monkeys being fed

Posted by DanaGege 11:38 Archived in Indonesia Tagged monkey thailand asia lopburi ruin Comments (0)

The Bumpy Road to Lopburi

In which we meet our first tropical rainstorm

sunny 27 °C
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After an early rise, quick breakfast and packing we made our way to the bus station for the 2x2 hours ride to Lopburi. The road to Saphanburi, where we had to switch busses, turned out to be bumpy. The ‘my fillings will rattle out of my teeth’ kind of bumpy, so editing pictures like I had planned to became quit challenging.

Once in Saphanburi, we had lunch in a really luxurious restaurant. It was close to the bus station and it had air-conditioning and that’s all we cared about at the time. Turned out we were still too slow though; upon returning to the bus station we learned the bus to Lopburi had left no more than 5 minutes ago. Which meant waiting for an hour for the next bus, which meant I could edit those pictures after all.

Before we got to go on our merry way, we were hit by our first tropical rainstorm, though. And let me tell you, that deserves the name rainstorm. Made a short movie for you guys, so you can see for yourself. Since the monsoon is catching up with us, we would see many more of these storms in the coming weeks and be rained on by a few as well.

Of course the bus couldn’t drive in that rain, or so we found out: we waited for 10 minutes at the station until the worst was over. After that we happily took off, without windshield wipers! Let’s just say I focussed on other things and was very relieved when the rain stopped completely.

The ride to Lopburi took much longer than expected; we arrived in the monkey town at 17:00, instead of the expected 15:00. So we made quick work of getting a hostel and dinner. Later that night we were besieged by an army of tiny, tiny flies in our room, but oh well. Better than mosquitoes, right?

Posted by DanaGege 13:05 Archived in Indonesia Tagged rain thailand asia lopburi Comments (0)

Erawan National Park

Swimmin’ with the fishes

sunny 27 °C
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Our hostel is great: we have a bedroom and bathroom bungalow in a very green environment. We even have a table, two chairs and a rack to hang our clothes.
Bungalows at Blue Star Hostel

Bungalows at Blue Star Hostel


There are just two downsides: the toilet is the kind where you have to use water from a big bucket to get your ehm…. stuff, into the sewer. Ok, maybe I should explain something about the Thai toilets, since I also already mentioned the squatting toilets.

So far we’ve met both squatting and sitting toilets. Usually there’s an ass shower present (I know it’s called a bidet, but ass shower gets the meaning across so much better), 90% of the time you’re not supposed to throw the toilet paper (which is not present 80% of the time, so we lug our own around) in to the toilet, but into a trash basket next to it (and try not to look too much at where you are throwing). This is because the sewer system can’t handle the paper. If you do throw the toilet paper in the bowl and you’re unlucky a backflow occurs when you flush and whatever you put down there, comes back up to say hi. Most of the time, you can flush the toilets, sometimes what you do is get the small bowl or pan that is floating around in a big container of water, fill it with water and pour into the toilet. Repeat until the toilet is empty.

Now squatting toilets are not as gross as they sound. Granted, you have to make sure you don’t pee over your own feet, but for … other business, they’re surprisingly nice. The disadvantage of Thai toilets is really the ass shower, to which the multiple signs of ‘please keep floor dry’ are testament. Anyway, enough of the toilets and apologies for this… dirty subject.

So, two downsides: one is the toilet, the other is the fact that even though the sign on the restaurant door says they open at 7.00, you cannot actually order until close to 7.30, so we missed the first bus to Erawan National Park. And I didn’t have too much faith in making the second either, as our tuk-tuk driver knew a better place to drop us off than the busstation. In the end I was proven just another suspicious Westerner, because eventually the bus did pick us up and – after an hour and a half’s worth of almost bumping your head into the roof – dropped us off at the national park.

First course of action was finding a toilet and changing, because swimming at the waterfalls is a definite possibility here, although to be honest, I was quite sceptic about that. The waterfalls are actually the seven plateaus of one waterfall. Our aim for the day was to climb 500 meters all the way to plateau seven.

The first part was a piece of cake; there’s even a nice tarmac walking road. Plus, we are immediately treated to a lizard fight.
Lizard fight

Lizard fight


Plateau two was really busy; lots of Thai and tourists in the water. And we got nicely sweaty by this time as well (it really doesn’t take much in 90+% humidity), so – despite my earlier scepticism – taking a refreshing swim seemed like a good idea. Undressed and started out barefoot rock climbing (it’s a waterfall people, not a swimming pool) and almost gave up right away. The ‘pool’ was full of fishes, see? And they were decidedly not scared of people. In fact, they happily came over to nibble at whatever you decided to put into the water and trust me, it takes some time (and in my case a fall) to get used to that feeling.
Second Tier Waterfall

Second Tier Waterfall


Eventually, we made it in and had a nice and very refreshing (the water was downright cold) swim.

The following plateaus were all gorgeous and the monkeys we were being warned for everywhere (they are supposed to be rather aggressive and steal your stuff), didn’t bother us in the least. In fact we had a good time watching two moms with baby monkeys attached to their bellies. On our way up, we also met our Spanish and Columbian friends from last night. We didn’t talk much, but it’s still fun to walk into people you actually know.
Beware of the Monkeys

Beware of the Monkeys

Monkey moms with babies

Monkey moms with babies


We did make it all the way up in the end. Granted, we were sweating buckets, out of breath and I miss stepped somewhere so my right foot hurt like a bitch. But those are all passing things and they were all worth it. Although my foot is still not okay.

On the way back down we hung our feet in the water and got over our discomfort of the fishes nibbling on your toes.
Cascade

Cascade


Of course, we compiled a video of our adventure:

When we finally got back down, it was nearing three o’clock and we didn’t have lunch yet. Gege wanted to do the 1 km bird walk too, but lack of time and my stupid right foot made that impossible. So we took the last – very full – bus back to Kanchanaburi at 16 and spent the evening recovering in our room.

Posted by DanaGege 11:25 Archived in Indonesia Tagged nature park thailand national asia kanchanaburi erawan Comments (1)

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