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Monkeys!

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Comment from Phil
Time: March 14, 2006, 6:43 am

Where to begin?

Since we last updated on our first night in Sukhothai, we've been up to a whole bunch of shenanigans. Sukhothai is a place famous for it's historical park, which is a bunch of temples and stuff that Cal could probably elaborate on better than I. I will say that while I've never really been excited by temples and the like, these were quite fantastic in their complexity and all round awesomeness. There's pictures up in the Sukhothai section of the photo thing.

The Historical park is quite big (around 5 square ks), so the best way to get around is by hiring a bicycle for the day at around 70 cents. Riding was actually a quite refreshing way to get around seeing as we've been doing a fair bit of walking lately. Anyway, this will bring me to a little anecdote that I now hold quite dearly and will no doubt beat like a dead horse for the next couple of weeks.

We'd been riding around the park for most of the day looking for the famous "big buddha" which everyone raves about. After a fair bit of searching, we finally found it and went to go inside. Well rather Cal went to go inside as I was outraged at having to spend 30baht ($1) to get in. So we get to the ticket booth, and Cal asks me to get her purse out of the backpack I was carrying. I rifle through it and come up empty handed. Increasing in concern (justifyably, it had around $150 in it), Cal tears through the bag (and then myself) and finds nothing. Now we're really worried, so we sit there and try and decide what to. As I try (and fail) to give Cal a consoling look, I notice something purse shaped sticking out of her bra strap…

After handing it over all I had to say was : "this is soooooo going into the blog"

The ladies at the ticket booth who watched the whole thing were laughing for a good five minutes.

Sorry Cal. 😛

Comment from Phil
Time: March 14, 2006, 7:17 am

I should also elaborate that the money over here does strange things to how you value things. I say that I was outraged over spending $1 for entry to a temple, and I really was. I guess I probably paid seeing as the guy we hired the bikes from sent us to a secret entrance to the park (unknowingly) through the use of which we avoided paying the 150baht ($5) entry fee to the park…

<whistles>

Anyway, on the bike ride we ran into a nice French Canadian dude called Mark, and went out to have dinner with him at a local restaurant. I was feeling queasy for some reason, so I didn't eat, but Cal and he had a wonderful dinner of Chicken and Garlic and Spinnach, and garlic and pepper fish. Mark was a french teacher back home, and had a tonne of stories to tell. While we were eating a dude with an elephant wandered around (naturally) and offered us things to feed it with. We all felt like dirty dirty tourists taking him up on the offer, but come on… an ELEPHANT. Cal also managed to get her picture of the elephant's tail light, which you can see up with the other photos.

The next day will shall now be known as the "day of travel hell, but also the day Phil got to see monkeys so it was okay."

It all started at 5:30 when we got up to catch a local bus to the bus station, and then another bus to the train station an hour away. Unfortunately for me, I was sick that day and had been wide awake since 3am. My lower back was sore which is generally a sign of impending doom for me, and my stomach still felt queasy from the night before – this however may be due to the beers I consumed to "make my stomach feel better".

So we get to the station at around 7:30, and I purchase one of the red bull syrup things which I swear I'm irrationally addicted to now, and wait for the 9am train to Lopburi (the place with the monkeys). The only ticket is 3rd class (the lowest) and the train takes 4 hours. This became simultaneously the best and worst train trip I've ever been on.

When the train arrives and we hop on, it begins to fill with locals. There aren't any fans or aircon so everyone has all the doors and windows open, and the seats are hard plastic. For my sore lower back and stomach this hell on earth. However, the locals made the trip facinating.

The thing about Thailand that I can see is that tourists are very often segregated from normal thais. We're staying in the tourist district in Bangkok where the only thais are the ones selling you stuff, and everyone else has a backpack on. Similarly with trains, trains are so cheap that it costs nothing for a westerner to get aircon and nice seats whereas this cost might be prohibitave to the locals.

Anyway, enough of the rambling, we got to see the REAL thailand that day. The train was packed and people were walking up and down selling food at lunchtime and there was constant chatter. Cal asked me what she thought some meat ball type things were and the lady selling them offered her one kindly. Now that I'm off the train and feeling better, I'm really appreciating how cool it was.

So we get to Lopburi at about lunch and get a tour with some locals waiting for unwitting westerners like myself. They offer us a 1 hour tour for 100baht ($3) so we accept. Of course I forget to keep track of the time properly and they end up extorting us for more. But we saw some cool temples and museums, and most importantly… THE MONKEYS!.

Monkeys kicked ass. We fed them from inside a caged temple for a while before I realised we could go outside and be with them, so go outside I did. We had bags of seeds to feed them which they took eagerly, and I managed to convince a couple of the smaller ones to climb up on my shoulders for the photo opportunity you can see. I will say that the bigass "momma monkeys" scared the crap out of me. I had one grab at me and try and climb up me to the food in my hand. I… uhh… ran away like a girl. There is a picture of this in the gallery. (post me running).

So we feed the monkeys some more, have our seeds stolen by a naughty little monkey who then ran off with them, and then head back to the train station. We get there and find we have to wait for the trains. The first train we're told we can get we later find out doesn't actually go all the way to Bangkok. We get the next one we can half an hour later which is air conditioned and quite pleasant (it cost 5 times as much). We arrive at Bangkok at around 9pm.

I was feeling a little better during the day due to the fact that I refused to eat anything. I knew I was feeling better for it, but by the time we got to Bangkok I was ravenous. I decided on the train that I wanted Oportos, but KFC would have to do. We found a KFC at the train station and had dinner there.

The healing powers of KFC is a miraculous thing friends. I finished eating and felt wonderful. It truly is the food of gods.

Comment from Callina
Time: March 14, 2006, 7:22 am

The monkey who nicked the seeds totalyed OWNED phil.. hehe.. was hilarious..

and parralleded an incident latter in Bangkok when he was having bags of seed (fr feeding pigieons) pushed into his hand and hung off the straps in the back pack.

Those moments were a beautiful antithesis in my mind.. but you may have to have been there

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