During one of our weekends off from school in January, Matt and I decided to go to Monkey Mountain, which was luckily only a couple of Song Tao rides away from our apartment. We heard about it from a couple of foreign teachers from our school and figured, hey– we don’t have anything to do today. Let’s go hang out with some wild monkeys on a mountain.
And so, we did. We hopped on one Song Tao in the stifling heat and humidity, sticking to the plastic seats and not receiving much recourse from the wind as we drove. Eventually, we got off by Bang Saen beach and walked a bit to find the blue Song Tao, which would take us in the direction of the mountain. When we told the driver that we wanted to go to Monkey Mountain, he understood (surprise!) and took us there. But, he didn’t stop to let us off, which we assumed he would do, considering we didn’t know where the mountain was or when or where to get off. He drove past macaque monkeys, other cars stopped with monkeys on their roofs, and scattered older Thai women with straw hats selling bushels of miniature bananas. But he didn’t stop. After turning right and making it back to the main road, Matt and I realized the driver wasn’t going back, so we pushed the buzzer above us to signal him to stop and we stepped off.
Already soaked with sweat, we walked at an incline back to where we drove past the monkeys. And we sweated even more. Finally, we reached the starting point of monkey mountain and yes, just as you may have imagined, there were monkeys everywhere.
We approached one of the Thai women in the straw hats and bought a bushel of bananas to feed the monkeys. While purchasing the bananas, we noticed two things: 1. the lady was nice and spoke a bit of English, since she said “Oh my god!” when I dropped money on the ground and it was hysterical; and 2. her teeth were as black as night. I mean, they really were! I have never seen teeth that rotted before.
Anywho, we decided to climb the mountain via the sidewalk rather than the road, since there were cars coming and going there. While walking along the sidewalk, we noticed it was scattered with monkeys. As we walked along, we would hand a monkey a banana and watch as they took it from our hands and quickly ate it right in front of us.
A couple of monkeys; me handing a banana to a monkey; monkeys along the sidewalk
After a few minutes, we couldn’t shake this eerie feeling that all of the monkeys were watching us from all angles. From the sidewalk, from inside the bushes, and from the branches on the trees above us. And they really were.
It grew more terrifying as we realized that we were the only ones walking on the sidewalk. Everyone else was below us on the street, but in their cars. No one stepped out of their car. Not one person.
We continued to walk on, handing out bananas as we went. Eventually, the sidewalk ended with a staircase winding down to the road. We walked down it and had to walk the rest of the way up via the road.
A monkey sitting on the road
We also had given all of our bananas away, so we had to buy some more. However, the next Thai lady that was selling food to give to the monkeys only sold small straw-woven bowls of peanuts. So, Matt purchased one.
Monkeys, cars, and the Thai lady we bought the peanuts from (in the pink)
He walked not even ten feet and three monkeys were surrounding him and staring at the basket of peanuts with hungry eyes. He tried handing them out to the monkeys, but he wasn’t giving away enough for them. More monkeys appeared as if from nowhere, badgering Matt for the peanuts. The woman who sold us the peanuts came over and tried to stop the monkeys from overwhelming Matt, which worked for a few seconds, but once the lady walked away, they came back for more. Matt said, “Fuck this!” and placed the bowl on the ground and speed-walked away, leaving a mob of monkeys gorging themselves behind him.
We continued up the mountain, still frightful of the conniving primates, but desperate to finish the climb that we started. Dripping with perspiration, we eventually made it to a false peak, which was surprisingly beautiful. It had some steps, leading to an aged platform that looked out onto the shimmering Gulf of Thailand. It was a wonderful place of refuge!
After that, we made our way to the actual top of the mountain, which actually wasn’t as magical as we had hoped. Just more monkeys, which were crazier than the others in that they were all aggressive towards each other, tackling and biting each other, and a collection of Thai people and their cars.
We glanced at the view and continued on the road back down the mountain. After waiting several minutes, a blue Song Tao picked us up.
And what do you know? It took us past Monkey Mountain! This time, we didn’t even look at them. We just kept our wet heads inside the pickup truck and anxiously waited to leave the mountain behind.
What is your experience with wild monkeys? Where were you when you experienced them?