I can easily say that this was one of the top five days of my life. I think it was the juxtaposition of intense joy mixed with intense fear that brought it to a heightened level of insanity.
We came across this town sort of by chance. My sister was coming to visit me in Bangkok, and I wanted to kick off her trip with something exciting. I was discussing it with my boyfriend (via skype, since he was back in NYC at the time), and he mentioned he had watched the Bangkok episode of "An Idiot Abroad". The guy visits a town overrun by monkeys, who climb all over him, and end up stealing all his stuff. I was SOLD.
The hotel did not have a trip package readily available (can't imagine why not), so we hired a van to drive us the two hours outside of Bangkok to the town of Lopburi. The driver had never been himself, so he dropped us on the sidewalk, and told us he would be back in a few hours.
We jumped out of the van ready to run into a pile of monkey hugs! This did not occur. We were met by monkey THUGS. These were street monkeys. They came at us like a gang. My sister was the first landing pad victim of a huge monkey who launched himself our way. She started running (monkey attached), and we followed her into a nearby shop. We all stood wide eyed and terror-filled in the back of the store, deciding our next move. We could stay here until the van came back a few hours later, or we could brave the monkey elements. We knew that the "Monkey Temple" was in the center of the town. It had to be seen, so we decided to run for it.
Without further incident (mostly because we sprinted), we arrived at the "Monkey Temple". There were no other tourists, but a small hut stood at the entrance. The grounds keeper took us inside. We came upon the most incredible scene. An ancient temple with statues all made of stone, COVERED in monkeys. These were a calmer bunch than the street monkeys. Most were napping or grooming each other. The guard took us to the nearest temple wall and told me to put out my arm. As soon as I did, one, then two, then five monkeys jumped on me. It was terrifying, but the BEST. Within minutes we were all covered in monkeys who (knowing what they were doing) began searching our bags, playing with our hair, and competing to be the one on top of our heads. I watched one pull out my sister's earrings and eat them in front of her. One opened my zipped bag, and ran off with my water bottle and sunscreen. They were insane, crafty, adorable, conniving little devils. The anticipation of where the next monkey was going to come from/where it would land on you/what mischief it would try to make, all threw us into a frenzy.
We completely forgot about the temple for a good time, but found the opening on the other side. It was monkey-less, but filled with a creepier friend. Bats. I don't do bats, so I got out of there pretty quickly, but what I did see were gorgeous statues and ruins that had to have been hundreds of years old. By the time the driver came back we were exhausted. It had been two hours of adrenaline, and it showed. SO WORTH IT.
MORAL: Go to monkey town. Leave all your belongings in the van. Have the best day ever.
***stay away from the ones with their mouths open-they will probably bite you, and the grounds keeper will laugh and spray you with something very similar to Windex