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Lopburi

July 13, 2012

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Lopburi was a short stop for me, I didn’t spend the night. I arrived from Ayutthaya at around 3:30 p.m. and caught a night train out at 10 p.m. I was hardly alone in this plan. It seemed that every foreign traveler that got off my train at Lopburi joined me in the left-luggage line, everyone heading out later.

I wasn’t walking through town long before I ran into a group of Lopburi’s most famous residents – monkeys. Monkeys are everywhere in the central part of town, hopping on cars, climbing buildings, hanging out on road signs.

Like Ayutthaya, Lopburi is an ancient city with many old relics and ruins around town. However, other than under the rule of one specific king who dug the town for whatever reason, Lopburi was no center of power. Basically every ancient Southeast Asian kingdom set up shop there at some point or another.

I started at Prang Sam Yot, the largest of Lopburi’s many temple and palace ruins. Prang Som Yot is also monkey central, more of them hang out here than anywhere else. I saw a monkey steal one dude’s earbuds and run off, so a nearby local chased the monkey with a stick and got the slightly chewed earbuds back.

I walked through some lessor sights, and then tried to head to the main museum but it was closed. Given that so many people visit Lopburi in the late afternoon on a day trip, it’s pretty annoying how early everything closes. Many temples close as early as 4 p.m., and everything is shut down by 5:30.

Eventually walking around got to be a bit boring. Lopburi may draw tourists with monkeys and ancient sights, but it’s still basically a dusty railroad town. Fortunately – I had my eternal plan B – find a place with wifi and booze to kill the next four hours until my train. Lonely Planet listed an establishment called Zon offering just these amenities.

Unfortunately, old LP neglected to mention where it was, other than giving a street name. I walked out to the street Zon was supposedly on, but it was nowhere to be found. I asked directions in a 7-11, and I was given the usual Southeast Asian response – “sure, five minutes that way.” After I walked for another ten, I asked around again, and learned that it was at least 3 kilometers away. I shook my fist at my LP PDF and hopped on a motorcycle taxi to get there.

After hanging out on the internets for awhile, I caught a motorbike back to the train station. I was heading for Lampang, where I could catch a bus to Chiang Rai. I considered riding all the way back to Chiang Rai, but getting off at Lampang would be my fastest rout.

On the train, two girls were hanging out on the top bunk, and I had the bottom. Before I could even put my bag down, they asked me if I could trade my bunk for one of theirs so they could be in the same room. I agreed at first, since what do I care, but then I asked if the other girl had a top bunk or a bottom bunk. Top, she said. I was instantly annoyed. Bottom bunks cost more than top bunks on these trains because they are bigger, more comfortable, and overall more convenient. Why would this girl expect me to make this trade? She didn’t even offer to pay the difference, which is fairly significant, 300 baht or so. I ended up looking like an asshole because I wouldn’t make the trade. At least I didn’t have to deal with them for long, as I adjourned to the bar car to hang out with Germans, Belgians, Indians, and Brits.

On to the pics!

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The monkeys made their presence known right away. I saw this maybe three minutes after I left the train station.

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Prang Sam Yot. The opening picture is also from there.

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These monkeys weren’t in a cage here. I was inside the temple. The bars are to keep them out. However, the temple interior had no shortage of bats and rats.

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I tried to hold my camer to the bars to take a picture of the outside, but this climbed up and blocked me.

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This is Phra Narai Ratchaniwet. It was the short lived palace grounds used by King Narai, the aforementioned king who dug Lopburi. The interior of the palace was closed by the time I got there.
The next couple of pictures are also from these palace grounds.

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This ruined Phrang was in a traffic circle. I forget its name, forgot to write it down.

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Dammit, this should have been my lead picture. Oh well, I’m too lazy to change it now.

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Another 400 year old pile of bricks for which I have no name.

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The train station. Unfortunately for me at this point, I had another 3 or 4 hours until my train.

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Sunset at Lopburi’s Wat Mahathat. I’d be on the other side of a train ride when the sun rose again.

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