Monkeys in central Thailand city mark their day with feast
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Monkey bars are lined up along the side of a road in the Thai capital in the old city district of Ratchathewi, as families and friends celebrate the day with feast-day meals and a traditional ceremony that involves the public.
The two-story stone building that serves as the Monkey Temple Bar is decked out for the occasion. The monkeys that roam Thailand’s forests are represented in stone bas-reliefs on the walls, and there is a large display of the animal’s ears and tails.
The family-run restaurant has a menu that includes a selection of Thai food, but the main special is a steamed chicken, beef or lobster salad with a sticky, fresh local vegetable salad.
Thais are known for their hospitality.
“The more people are here, the better it is,” said Thitipong Phutwandee, 45, wife of Ratchawong Phutwandee, a bar owner in Ratchathewi.
The city of Bangkok, which is one hour’s drive from the temple, had more than 8.6 million visitors last year, according to the National Tourism Administration. That’s up from about a million visitors in 2013 and almost 5.4 million in 2008.
The temple and bar have become popular tourist sites. More than 3 million people visited it in 2017, and there were more than 200,000 in the previous two years.
The temple is in a largely secluded part of Thai life and attracts a small minority of people who consider themselves part of the “elite.”
“It’s like a country club for the rich and famous,” said Sombat Phitsakij, a writer, editor and freelance travel writer. “And it’s very exclusive. But everybody feels welcome.”
The temple itself is a symbol of Thailand’s ancient imperial days as a unified kingdom. It started out as a small stone house near the temple of the ancient Sukhothai king. The temple was later expanded and then moved to its present site in the capital.
Thai people believe that the temple