Tourists gather and take pictures as macaque monkeys eat food during the annual Monkey Buffet Festival.
Gulf Today Report
Watched by tourists and locals, thousands of Monkeys in Lopburi in central Thailand feasted on two tonnes fruits and vegetables after the town's Monkey Festival resumed following a two year hiatus caused by the pandemic.
Their table manners were shocking, but the guests of honour at a special banquet in the Thai town of Lopburi on Sunday loved Monkeying around.
Lopburi has been laying on an annual feast of fruit for its population of macaques since the late 1980s, part religious tradition and part tourist attraction.
This year's Monkey Buffet Festival saw around 1,000 hungry simians descend on tables and wheelchairs piled high with fruit outside the town's 800-year-old Pra Prang Sam Yod temple.
Hundreds of macaques, also known as long-tailed Monkeys, were seen climbing on people and stacks of fruit, munching away on bananas and pineapples.
The feast, which cost over 100,000 baht ($3,000), is an annual tradition for locals to thank the Monkeys for doing their part in drawing in tourists to Lopburi, which is sometimes known as "Monkey Province." "Today's special is durian, which is expensive. Lopburi Monkeys like expensive things," said Yongyuth Kitwatananusont who has previously organised over 30 Monkey festivals.
Organiser Yongyuth Kitwatananusont said the Monkeys have a special taste for durian, the pungent love-it-or-hate-it tropical fruit popular across Southeast Asia.
Covid restrictions meant last year's party was missing its usual crowd of spectators, but this year the humans were back in force, with more than 100 turning out to see the furry fruit fanatics.
And the cheeky Monkeys were keen to renew their acquaintance with their distant cousins, clambering over onlookers, stealing hats, chewing long hair and giving the occasional bite.
The theme for this year's festival was wheelchair Monkeys, and Yongyuth planned to donate 100 wheelchairs to needy people.
Tourists have been gradually returning to Thailand after the government launched a quarantine-free travel scheme for vaccinated tourists in November, and the festival proved a popular draw.
Thailand saw more than 100,000 inbound travellers in November, as high as the number of arrivals in the first ten months combined.
"I'm really happy to get to see this and now I'm thinking about going to the next festival," said Moroccan tourist Ayoub Boukhari.
"It's quite unexpected and the Monkeys are quite silly."
Some tourists were seen playing with the Monkeys with their cameras. The resumption of the tradition also pleased locals.
"It's the first time in two years that Monkeys get to eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables," said Thanida Phudjeeb. "I'm happy for them."
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