Monday, May 8, 2006

Petchaburi

Just a short 3rd class train ride (3h45, 138 THB) from Bangkok lies Petchaburi, a town off the main tourist maps, where people still smile at you and offer help without being asked. I stayed in a no-name Chinese hotel, in a basic fan room with common cold water bathroom for 200 THB.


The town is full of wats (= temples), one of them on top of a small hill, where monkeys rule without mercy. Vendors actually sell corn and bananas to feed them. And they know it. It's strongly advised NOT to bring anything in a plastic bag unless you want to get rid of it. I personally witnessed several take-away strategies.

Strategy #1: A medium sized monkey nonchalantly strolls towards you, looking the other way, as if interested in something in the trees. But as it passes by your side, it suddenly turns around, snatches your bag away and leaps off to examine its catch.

Strategy #2: An alpha monkey comes towards you without a trace of doubt, its purpose clear: your plastic bag. In this case I was holding the bag and cleared it away from its grabbing hands. Having missed the bag, it then jumped straight onto me to get another go, baring its teeth to warn me not to fool around. At which point I conceded and it ran away with its booty: a couple of sweet cakes and a botlle of water - which it expertly opened to have a gulp after having gorged on the cakes.

Strategy #3: When a tourist is stupid enough to buy monkey food, why wait till he/she actually gives it to you? As the vendor hands over a couple of bags of corn to an unsuspecting (Thai) tourist, a big female monkey jumps in and runs off with both bags crammed in her arms.

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