A mountain where hundreds of monkeys live amongst the temples and all the visitors?? This is the strangest thought for a farang (foreigner) and I must check it out.
With no plans for the day, Eliot and I decided to venture off to this place they call Monkey Mountain. Unsure of the name of the actual town, or exactly where we were going for that matter, we were lucky to see that the songthaew driver was familiar with the English name “Monkey Mountain” when we asked. He drove us straight there with no confusion, straight to the top of the mountain.
The town is called Khao Takiab. It is a small village that sits only 6ish kilometers from Hua Hin. You can actually see the mountain from the Hua Hin beach at our apartment. With pure excitement about our trip, I did not expect to jump out of my shorts at the sight of the first monkey! A macaque jumped straight into the back of our songthaew, and I was completely caught off guard. They look so strange up close and this guy was clearly up to no good.
Eliot and I walk around the mountain and we are in SHOCK at the sight of them all. Big ones, small ones, baby ones hanging from their mothers backs… macaques everywhere! They are climbing the buildings, sitting in trees, roaming the streets, laying on benches, picking each others hair, fighting over food, it looks like they have taken over the place.
My initial fear wore off a bit as we walked amongst them and they didn’t seem to mind. It is obvious the macaques are living freely here and have clearly grown accustomed to humans. There is no exploitation by humans, but rather exploitation OF humans. Visitors can partake in feeding the macaques bananas and corn, which can be bought for a small charge. These monkeys are wild though and their behavior is unpredictable. It is not uncommon to see them pulling on someone’s shorts or jumping on their back to snatch food. They are very mischievous and willing to snatch anything they find interesting.
I decide to buy a basket of bananas. At the sight of the banana basket, they all come running. Literally from everywhere, and that initial fear is back….times 10. What if one bites me? I’m going to end up in that Thai hospital we visited in my first week! The lady with the food attempts to hand the basket to me, when all the monkeys swarm my feet. I panic but manage to get one hand on the basket, until a macaque jumps right on my back. He has a banana and decides to enjoy it on my shoulders unbothered by the rest fighting each other for food at my feet. The look on my face is priceless. I. Am. Terrified. The lady takes the basket back from me as she can see I’m frightened and dumps the rest on the ground.
when my bucket is empty, the macaques make a beeline for others with food.
At the end of this street we are surprised by a Chinese temple on the right and an amazing view of the sea and the coast on the left. The Chinese temple is colorful and beautiful, complete with a laughing Buddha and and a large golden statue of a Buddhist goodness with many arms, Guan Yin, literally meaning the one with many arms.
There is a place to walk down the side of the mountain to the rocks just on the water. I saw others walk down, so we follow, however I feel a little uncomfortable when I realize how many monks live here and all their houses are on this path down the mountain. Eliot and I are sweating bullets and the water is becoming a tease now as we’d love to jump in and cool off.
Our way back up the mountain is tiring, and we have to go even further as we want to check out the popular temple at the very top, called Wat Khao Lad. The temple sits at the top of many stairs in the middle of the mountain where we were dropped off at. As we walk to the stairs for the temple, we are distracted by the fattest monkey sitting behind a fence, in a room. We see a woman out front and figure it is her home. I realize this monkey must be her pet and I wonder why.
Maybe because he picks at her hair?
Eliot and I aren’t dressed appropriately for the temple, so we give a donation and use the sarongs provided.
The steps up to Wat Khao Lad are brutal with the heat so we take some time. It is worth the struggle. There’s a beautiful view and we can see to Hua Hin and maybe even Cha Am. People can go into the temple and pray (remember to remove shoes) and large bells line the perimeter of the temple. Ringing the bells symbolizes Buddha’s voice.
Before leaving monkey mountain, Eliot buys an ice cream and I wander around a little shop. She comes in minutes later with the saddest look on her face and no ice cream. A monkey approached her and ripped the ice cream bar right out of her hands. Then he rubbed it in by eating in front of her. It was a little funny. Sorry Eliot.
I am getting hungry so Eliot and I walk down the mountain and wander through the sea market at the base. Beautiful views to take in as we walk down.
Fish, squid, crab, prawn, etc. all on display at the sea market.
Eliot is too picky but I decide to order some fried rice with crab. The food is a bit pricey for Thailand. I love seafood, however this meal wasn’t my favorite. There were pieces of hard shell in the crab meat and it smelled too fishy for me. After lunch Eliot and I head to where the songthaews are parked and head back to Sala after an eventful day on the planet of macaques.
I’ve heard from others about a beautiful beach here in Khao Takiab so I come back again with Teri another day. Spending half the day lounging on the beach, drinking wine, snapping the ever so fun jumping photos, and collecting cool sea shells, the day couldn’t be much better.
The scenery is great! Except for all the jellyfish in the water and washed up on shore. Tis the season for jellyfish here.
Taylor, a friend of ours from Webster is making her way down the beach and we greet her. The 3 of us decide to walk up the mountain as Teri hasn’t had the pleasure of experiencing the macaques yet. We are walking the grounds when a monkey approaches Teri wanting her water bottle. Teri refuses to hand it over but offers the monkey a drink instead. He drinks it straight from her bottle, then of course snatches the whole thing with quick moves.
You should immediately step away from a monkey if they look at you with ears back and big eyes. I found this out the hard way. There was an open bench that I decided to sit on, taking a break from the walking. I noticed a monkey on the other end but didn’t think twice as they are accustomed to humans. The monkey immediately gave me a rude look, ears back, wide eyes, and before I could hop up, he reached over and smacked me right on the arm! Shocked that I was just slapped by a monkey I jumped up. A lady monk from across the way came over and told me, “big monkey mean”. So noted.
Another eventful day in the books at Khao Takiab, the home of Monkey Mountain. <3