It was May 13th and from Ayutthaya I stopped in a small town called Lop Buri, popular for some of its ruins but one that really stands out for its inhabitants. The slow blue train pulls up to the station and as I get down I was immediately greeted by a rickshaw driver that offered me a tour of the town for an hour for 150 baht, about $4.70. It was raining a bit, so I agreed and decided to take a look before moving further north. I follow him to his cool blue rickshaw where I jump in and he begins to pedal me around. I felt bad that he didn’t have anything to protect him from the rain but it did lighten up. And he was cool with it. We squeezed between small cars and food carts towards some ancient grounds and temples where he would stop and I would walk around taking some pictures and soaking in the ambiance while getting wet in the rain. The first stop was at Somdet Phra Narai National Museum, the second palace of King Narai the Great, which was built in 1666 and is located in the center of town. The King would use the palace for relaxation, hunting and receiving ambassadors and other official visitors. On the grounds were the remaining sites of some storage houses, stables and what looked sleeping quarters. When the King died, according to history, the palace and the town of Lop Buri was abandoned.
After the ancient palace we went to a small gated Buddhist Temple where we paid our respects to the Buddha and then continued through the village. As he took me around the food market I could feel everyone looking at me as my trusty driver pulled me along. Some would smile and wave and others would stare straight into my soul. I would smile often and wave back, giving a respectful Wai with a kind hello in Thai. He took me down narrow streets and alleyways passing by street food vendors selling all kinds of produce, prepared foods, noodles, insects and a variety of live fish in buckets. The sight of the food market was so visually appealing and exciting that my head was turning everywhere. I took it all in… The damp street with the locals walking back and forth exchanging money and produce, the smacking of wet flip flops against their feet, the splashing about of fish in the buckets of water, the colorful array of local fruit and vegetables stacked together neatly, the sound of spoken Thai and the smell of different grilled meats in the air… It was and always is a sight I love to see.
After a couple of more streets he turned the corner that led to the Prang Sam Yot, where I began to see gangs of Macaques running across the street and jumping the fence to congregate at the temple. It was a real sight to see so many wild monkeys running around the city so freely. The temple itself wasn’t very big but had a nice tower in the center with a total of three Prangs. We get off in the front and I pay 30 baht to walk the grounds and to get a closer look of the monkey-ridden temple. I circle around and pass by some large pots of water where the macaques were jumping in and out of splashing around and playing. Some would approach curiously and looked like they were ready to pounce on me. After taking some photos I continued around, turned the corner and one came running up to me. He jumped on me and almost immediately, four others came and hopped onto my backpack and shoulders. I continued walking towards the entrance with these monkeys on me and took some photos with them but of course one had the audacity to grab my hat that I had just bought in Bangkok. He jumps off and runs up the temple with it and another monkey began to tug on my hair. I walked more and brushed them off without getting bitten with the help of a Thai lady with a stick. I then ran towards the temple trying to find my hat.
I spotted him. He was a the tippy-top of the temple and had it in his mouth, ripping it up and dragging it through monkey shit. I had lost my hat but I just laughed at the whole experience and began to leave. As I walked away he finally dropped it to the ground. I go to pick it up and found it wrecked and dirty. More monkeys jumped on me as I left but by then I had enough fun. We the go to another temple with a statue of the Buddha covered in square gold paper. Inside was all kinds of fruit offerings and the smoky smell of incense. I take off my shoes and a guy calls me over to put some gold on the statue. I pay my respects and the leave back to the station with my driver where I paid and tipped him something extra. There I bought my ticket to Phitsanulok on a 3rd class train leaving at 12:30. And as I would find out, I was in for a long ride.