Once a year, and only in Thailand, the four legged and agile inhabitants of Lopburi, the Macaques monkeys, are treated as honored guests at the Monkey Buffet Festival. Normally, the locals regard these simian creatures with disdain because of their atrocious behavior. Monkey hordes hang out on roof tops and telegraph wires, and their hygiene leaves much to be desired. Passer bys are often the recipients of undesired droppings. And as the monkeys have lived beside humans for centuries they are openly brazen about approaching and hanging on to people. Kleptomania is rampant, and many a tourist has been relieved of purses, sunglasses, mobile phones, cameras and anything not tied down.
But on November 25th, the red carpet treatment is extended to these furry creatures on their home ground, at the Khmer temple of Pra Prang Sam Yot. Large tables with crisp red tablecloths are laden with almost ten thousand pounds of artistically presented food. Massive amounts of delicious fresh tropical fruits, some encased in ice sculptures, lots of sticky rice and desserts are delicately formed; there are teardrop-shaped puddings made from egg yolk.
Begging an answer is, why--despite having all the earmarks of a long-revered traditional event--the Monkey Buffet festival is only twenty four years old? An enterprising businessman got permission from the Tourism Authority in Thailand to launch this tourist trap festival and his assumptions were fulfilled, as thousands of travelers arrive every year for the spectacle.
Learn more about this and other celebrations happening around the world this month, and hear great music from Thailand and more countries, on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, Saturday nights at 8:00 on KSTX 89.1 FM.