Monkey on Your Back - The Lopburi Monkey Festival in Thailand

Hungry Monkeys

Photo by sivanelle — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Paris has its pigeons, Manhattan, overpriced horse carriage rides, and Greycliff, Montana, its peppy prairie dogs- but the Lopburi Monkey Festival has these living attractions turning green with envy. Tourists! Whereʼs the love?

Part tribute to Rama, the hero of the epic tale Ramayana, part thank-you party for the townʼs most famous residents, the Monkey Buffet Festival brings together two dozen of Thailandʼs best chefs and 2,000 of Lopburiʼs best-behaved monkeys for a massive buffet in the provincial capital of Thailand each November.

In addition to the 4,500 kilograms of fresh fruit, vegetables, sausages, ice cream and sodas laid out in an elaborate spread for the macaque, visitors and residents bring their own edible offerings for the furry fellows in hopes that the monkeys will bring them luck and fortune in the coming year.

Whether they are climbing up the stone walls of shrines or the clothed back of a tourist, the charming antics of the macaque bring in thousands of visitors each year. Amusing to watch, lucrative to film, the monkeys provide endless fodder for budding YouTube directors, but itʼs not all fun and games with the largest primate genus in the world. In the late 1990ʼs, scientists determined that 90% of Macaques carry the herpes B virus. No problem for the monkeys; big problem for you. A second study by the University of Toronto proved that urban Macaques carry the simian foamy virus — and you know you donʼt want that.

So hereʼs a good plan for the last two weeks in February. Rather than risking your life and health in Lopburi, head to the Phuket International Blues Rock Festival instead. Rest, relaxation and rhythm on the gorgeous sands of Phuket, and all for a good cause. (The proceeds from the festival go toward a childrenʼs education scholarship fund.) Now thatʼs no monkey business!

Tempted by Thailand? Visit other fab fests here. Feeling courageous? If you think you can endure 5 minutes of the worldʼs most annoying music and an irritating copyright notice, visit the monkey festival here. Want to try your hand at creating an authentic Thai delicacy? Then check out famous Thai Chef Vichit Mukura’s recipe for Plaa Ghoong, which blends the marine flavors of fresh prawns with the rich aromas of Thai herbs.

- Courtney Maum

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