Running the Monkey Gauntlet

They were everywhere, watching our every move, staring at us, creeping up on us when our back was turned and jumping onto the path in front of us. They were rubbing their hands, baring their teeth, picking fleas off each other and screeching as they waited for each set of climbers to walk up the path. The kids stayed close not wanting to get separated as we headed up to the temple on the top of the hill. We didn't stay long to admire it as we were more concerned with getting back down the path without been attacked by the hundreds of monkeys blocking the way. Now on this trip we have been fortunate to see a lot of wildlife but to be honest running the monkey gauntlet was far scarier than walking in the wild with lions or elephants around. We should have known it was going to be bad because as soon as we had parked a lady came running over to us and told us not to park where we were planning. Through her gestures we understood that the monkeys would climb onto the truck and try and pull things off. She suggested we park closer to her stall where she could keep an eye on it with her catapult. She then asked if we would like to buy some corn to feed the monkeys. Not likely! I wanted to buy her catapult or if not a big stick. We had headed north from Phuket a few days before. As we headed inland we came to supposedly the wettest spot in Thailand. As it was the rainy season we assumed it could get pretty wet here. However there was a nice National Park so we decided to stop. Our first challenge was getting into the park. The boom gate would not go up high enough to squeeze the truck in. No problem. The guards promptly got a shovel and dug a hole so that the boom would go higher and we could squeeze through. To thank them we promptly dug up their camping area. Not that we intended to but it was a bit wet and as we they waved us onto a nice patch of gravelly looking dirt, we started to sink and slide. We managed to extract ourselves but not without leaving large dug up tracks. As we were in the National Park we decided to do a short walk in the jungle. At least it looked short on the map. It turned out to be a steep wet trail that wiggled its way through the lush jungle. We could hear monkeys overhead but as they were genuinely wild they stayed well away from us. About half way round it started to rain and by the time we got back to the truck we were soaked. It then proceeded to rain for most of the night. We were glad we were safely parked on solid ground in their car park. image In a previous blog I think I had mentioned we had a run of good news re permits etc. Well the following day after the good news, our windscreen had cracked (things always even out). We had had a stone chip since Australia and then one morning it just spread about 18 inches across the screen. There was a MAN garage on our route from Phuket to Bangkok so we decided to call in. After a lot of discussion it transpired there was no replacement windscreen for us in Thailand. As it would take until after our Thai permit had expired to import one we decided to plod on. However the garage kindly set us up with a windscreen repair shop in Bangkok. We headed onto the beach and found a lovely spot at Ban Krut. With it been the rainy season some of the beaches we had visited had not been at their best. However this was a delightful beach, very quiet, clear waters and virtually no litter. Despite the risk of Jelly Fish in the rainy season, Lucy and I could not resist taking a plunge. The following day, was the day of the monkeys. After having them harass us all the way up to the temple the kids were not very keen to visit any more temples. However we found the most delightful teak temple nearby which also seemed to be free of monkeys although instead infested with stray dogs. The next day we headed into Petchaburi for some more temple and royal palace viewing. The guide book said the town was overrun with monkeys so we were a little concerned. This time though we went prepared carrying an umbrella and it wasn't because of the threat of rain. It was still over 100kms to Bangkok so we needed to find somewhere to sleep for the night. It was starting to get built up so there were no obvious spots. As we sometimes do in these situations we pulled up Google maps looked for a quiet road and then using the satellite feature to check to see if there seemed to be areas to camp. We found an area near the sea but most of what had looked like open areas on Google were in fact fish farms. However there were a number of restaurants with big car parks. It was the middle of the week so they were quite relaxed about us parking for the night. We thought it only polite to frequent one of the restaurants for dinner. Not that ordering food was easy. The menu was only in Thai with just a few pictures so we decided the best approach was to ask the waitress to recommend some dishes. This was a great success as we had a fantastic meal of fish, grilled prawns, some sort of cockle dish and a delightful lemon grass salad. It was absolutely delicious. The next day we headed into Bangkok. We had heard how bad the traffic was and how crowded the city was. To make matters worse the windscreen repair shop was on the opposite side of the city to the hotel we had booked so we would have to drive across the city and then back again. It wasn't much fun as we ended up been stuck in traffic a number of times. In fact the worst jams seemed to be on he roads we paid to use! The lane markers on he road are only used at best as guidance by the traffic and often there were four lines of traffic in only 3 lanes. With us been wide things got quite tight on more than a couple of occasions. image At least the windscreen repair shop was able to attempt to fix the windscreen or at least to stop it cracking further. We will see if it holds as it could be a while before we can get another one. We were relieved to arrive at our hotel after battling our way back across the city. We had selected the hotel not for the usual reasons that people choose. For us the only criteria was easy access from a major road and somewhere to park the truck. Fortunately it is also quite comfortable and surprisingly close to all the main sites. I am just happy to have the truck safely parked and will try not to think of all that traffic I will need to get through again to get out of the city but instead to just enjoy the sights of the city.

One thought on “Running the Monkey Gauntlet

  1. Hi Steve;
    Well nice to see you are getting (un-) comfortable with Thai wild live!
    The temples with the snakes and the rats you seemed to have missed. They are something else. The thought of it still gives me goose bumps……. many years later.

    Look forward to you revealing your trail of how you managed the permit for your truck. As we are in the final stages of travel logistics it would be nice (for us) to have a clearer idea of what lays ahead and which “agent” to contact. For us it is important as we are shipping from SA and if the Thai permit is difficult or extraordinary expensive we could change to plan B!
    Look forward to hear.
    All the best and Hamba kahle

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