Monday, September 12, 2005
On the north end of Prachuap Khiri Khan there is a hill with many steps leading up to a wat. Along the way climbers get to pass by hordes of monkeys: old monkeys, young monkeys, male female screeching teeth baring red anus flashing large testicle swinging bloodied and aggressive monkeys.
Brilliance of ideas is a gift some people have, our gift is slightly misguided; climbing to the wat for sunset seemed a marvelous idea for our last night in town.
Not to be
At the outset there were no monkeys and we wondered at this phenomenon, as swarms have always abounded when our wanderings brought us into the area of said hill. Midway we found them. All of them. Initially we gave in to temptation and snapped photos, moving on when their movements brought them in our direction, when teeth were bared, or when any noise emitted from their maws. As we climbed higher, their numbers grew and we began to feel quite surrounded (probably because you were, idiot). As the top drew into view, the hemming in grew insistent; an old geezer monkey reclined in the middle of a step above us, grunting and causing a commotion. All of a sudden he sent out a call and the hill erupted with screeching and screaming and howling; all the monkeys, in front and behind and on our sides all began running in our direction.
To say the least, this was a bit unnerving.
Fortunately, as we ascended the initial stairs I grabbed a walking stick for additional balance (and to whack my hike-mates at odd intervals.) and this came in quite handy.
The first attack came in from our left. Two monkeys in the prime of their lives leaped from the railing at my head. Sticky the Walking Stick cum Beating Stick flew upwards and was grabbed, one assailant at either end. Bringing forth all I've learned from the incessant kung-fu in China my would-be beaters found themselves getting flung one at a time off to my right (using their momentum against them, of course) and over the stair-side trees into oblivion.
There was no time to gloat over my victory, as the others barely slowed. I moved in and swatted 2 who were attempting to rip away C's bag and leapt down 10 steps to D who found himself getting shoved over backwards thanks to one monkey on his hands and knees (behind) and one shover-dude. Sticky made quick work of those two and like a divining rod seeking out and finding the Dead Sea, I had to grab fast to follow his lead back up several dozen steps to thwart efforts being made to dislodge a Japanese couple from their Nikon cameras.
My labored breathing threatened to topple me, and Old Man Monkey sensed this. Thrusting out his jaw and flinging his arms in my general direction (an amusing motion when performed by monkey-types on tv but quite eerie when used as an attack maneuver against me) I was suddenly over-run by 20 of the bastards!
Lost from view, my companions feared the worst (and began discussing how much they could earn selling my portable library to other backpackers) and turned away to not bear witness to the carnage.
I burst skyward and hovered slightly (I've watched a LOT of kung-fu in the last year) and swatted the hell out of the bastards, coming back to earth with 4 under each foot, their mangy heads being ground into the concrete and dirt.
Sensing defeat, Old Man Monkey called a retreat and his troops fell back.
We exchanged knowing nods, and both moved off-him uphill, and us back down. Sunset would not be seen from on high that night.
At the base of the hill we passed the 15 foot high concrete monkey statue. Another Old Many Monkey sat perched on his head, and all around him were monkeys laying and sitting about, paying him heed. Very eerie