Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More monkey business

Bachey, the monkey from Wat Nokor looks docile enough
Bachey is feeding before he began roaming through the temple
Nearly as common as the gorgeous lintels at the temple sites I visit and the engaging Neak Ta shrines I encounter, are the monkeys that inhabit pagodas, particularly where large numbers of people gather. They certainly know which side their bread is buttered - what's the point of hanging around a pagoda that no-one ever goes to! These cheeky monkeys are from two pagodas that I visited at the weekend, when I spent 3 days in Kompong Cham. The top two photos are from Wat Nokor, just outside the city and a temple that is well worth visiting, but more about the temple itself in another posting. This monkey, who I nicknamed Bachey, was the only one I spotted and was in a tree above my head when I paid my $1 entrance fee to the tourist policeman lazing in his hammock. At a command from the policeman, he bared his teeth and feigned an attack, in an almost circus-like fashion. Quite distrubing really. He was the only monkey I saw at Wat Nokor. Meanwhile, it was a very different story at Phnom Pros, about 7kms from the city. This area has become quite a complex of buildings, a genocide memorial erected with support from Hun Sen and so on, and was awash with families and couples for my visit. The monkeys here are a veritable troop and I counted twenty at least of varying sizes and ages. They were much more aggressive and bold and all hell let loose when two of them began scrapping for the same piece of food. The decibel level rose dramatically, all the monkeys converged to see what the fuss was about and there seemed to be two camps in opposition to each other. It died down after a couple of minutes but simmered throughout my time there with sporadic outbreaks of gnashing of teeth and shaking of trees. Again, quite disturbing when so many young children were present, not to mention me! Keep an eye open for monkeys on your next pagoda visit and I recommend that you steer clear of them, just in case.

This young male was one of the main protagonists at Phnom Pros
One of the smaller, more docile monkeys at Phnom Pros

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