In keeping with our Chefs Issue, there’s one thing all chefs in Lopburi province—150 km north of Bangkok—have in common come November and that’s the feeding of thousands of long-tail macaque monkeys. That’s a lot of monkey business!
The rather unusual feast is all part of the two-day Annual Lopburi Monkey Buffet in which more than 3,000 monkeys are invited, or rather, encouraged, to feast on over two tonnes of grilled sausage, fresh fruit, ice cream and other delicious treats. Locals see it as a special thank you to the monkeys which inhabit the village and bring thousands of tourists there each year.
According to Thai legend, Lord Rama and his devoted friend, Hanuman (The Monkey King) together created the town of Lopburi and now, the monkeys that roam around the temples of Lopburi are descendants of Hanuman.
The mass feeding takes place in San Phra Kan shrine and Phra Prang Sam Yot shrine—close to the railroad station in the Old Town of Lopburi—where many of the monkeys already make their homes. As part of the banquet, long tables are set out and covered in a red tablecloth, then blocks of ice are placed on top with many encasing fruits for the monkeys to, eventually, lick their way to. The rest of the table is loaded with a great variety of fresh fruit and vegetables; very smorgasbord-style. The cheeky monkeys probably can’t believe their luck!
The very first monkey buffet took place on Sunday 25th November 1989—created by a local hotelier named Yongyuth Kitwattananusont—and the guest of honour that year was the former prime minister M.R. Kukrit Pramoj. In more recent times, the event has been opened by the Governor of Lopburi, before the monkeys are invited down to eat from the buffet tables.
The annual buffet has become known as the “Monkey Festival”, drawing thousands of spectators each year, making for a unique, and quite possibly humorous, mix of man and monkey.
Where: San Phra Kan shrine and Phra Prang Sam Yot shrine, Lopburi.
Date: Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th November, 2018 (entry is B150).