15 May 2013
Don’t feed the monkeys
Leaving food unattended can have unforeseen consequences – consequences that can last for more than 500 years, including having your city overtaken by hordes of monkeys. This is what happened to the town of Lopburi, in central Thailand. Its inhabitants, worshipping at local temples, gave offerings of flowers, incense... and food, which attracted monkeys from the nearby forests. 500 years later, thousands of monkeys are all over town. Can you spot the one climbing on the temple, its colour matching perfectly the colour of the stones?
It turns out that Hanuman, a popular Hindu deity that’s also present in Thai culture through Hinduism’s influence, is the god-king of monkeys... so providing food for the monkeys brings about good fortune (you don’t even want to know what would happen if you tried to cause harm to them). Not sure this additional feeding helps in solving anything though!
Monkeys have become aggressive to the point that signs have been placed to warn of possible attacks (such as in Petchaburi), which is also a reason why I stayed within safe distance from the ones I saw on the beautiful islands of Ko Tarutao, desperate to grab watermelon scraps... and obviously much more successful at it than the poor little but oh-so-cute hermit crabs.