Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday Afternoon in Lopburi - Monkey City

After spending the morning in Ayuthaya, we got back on the road and headed farther north.  We spent more time on the road than we planned since it was the beginning of a long weekend - the roads were very crowded.  There was even a constant stream of cars driving on the shoulder.    Once we got off the major highway we made more progress on the two lane highway.  We arrived in town and I decided to go one of the houses that I lived in as a Missionary.

2nd Lopburi house - Church was held here years ago
Where you see the health store was where we had Church.  Our Bedroom is on the second floor.  The gas pump is a new addition.  There is an open courtyard and sky bridge that connects the front structure to the rest of the house.

We then went to the center of the old town to see the monkeys. Many years ago there were only a hundred or so monkeys and they were mainly resident in the large traffic Circle that had trees and a shrine.  Now there are thousands of monkeys which roam most of the old city.  They are everywhere, crossing streets, getting into the backs of pickups stopped for a train, on the roofs of building on the power poles on the wires, on the balconies and all over the ruins that occupy this section of town.
Sister Meeker and Sister Seppi with one of the monkey wranglers

The Monkey Wranglers will sell you slices of corn cobs to feed the monkeys. They then use a stick or slingshot to threaten the monkeys to keep from getting too aggressive when you feed them.  I saw several monkeys climbing on those who bought food and decided to not get into the feeding business.  Several Elders have been bitten here.  And the treatment for a monkey bite includes rabies shots.  Something I am not interested in.
Note the monkey wrangler at the top of the steps ready to be hired.

Elder Seppi taking pictures of the Monkeys entertaining themselves on the hillside

A mature monkey watching over the proceedings

After watching the monkeys for a short while. I called the Sister (Somnug who is an active member) of my former maid here in Lopburi. After a few tries - it started to downpour - we finally got enough directions and help and we found Somkhid's home. Somkhid joined the church after I returned to the States. I was unaware of this until a few weeks ago when Elder Cutler - Missionary currently serving in Lopburi found her. She has been inactive for about 6 or 7 years. She stayed home to care for here ailing parents.  They have now passed away. 37 years ago when she worked for us missionaries, she had a 2 to 3 year old daughter.  Her husband had died of a brain tumor.  The daughter of course has now grown up married and has a 5 year old daughter of her own.   
Somkhid was fun to be around.  We teased her a lot and she had a great smile.  She worked 6 days a week.  She cleaned our home, washed our clothes (by hand in a tub), and prepared two meals a day for us.  I remember one time I was trying to teach her to say in English " the food is ready".  I had been working with her for several days on this phrase trying to help her get it correct.  One afternoon after several days working on the new phrase, I hear her call from downstairs " Elder  - food's on".  Apparently a previous elder had taught her to say this easier phrase.  We had a refrigerator in our home, but in the Thai tradition she would go to the market every morning to buy food to cook our two meals a day.  Breakfast was served at 10 AM and Dinner about 4 PM.  We would always have some kind of snack on our own at the end of the day.  Quite often I would come home in the afternoon and she would pull out of the freezer a popsicle for us.  She was very kind and thoughtful. 
I had talked to Somkhid twice Since my return to Thailand.  But honestly, I do not think she remembered exactly who I was.  She must of had dozens of Missionaries that she served over the years.  But when I pulled up into her driveway - and she saw me behind the wheel of the van - she remembered me and even let me give her a hug.  It was a great experience seeing her again and visiting Lopburi.  On the way out of town we stopped at a Big C shopping center (kind of like a Fred Meyer store) and had dinner.  While we were there eating dinner - Somkhid called me and asked when am I going to visit again.
Some unedited Videos of Monkeys for your viewing pleasure 

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