By Cailey Rizzo
Dec 2, 2021
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE — and hundreds of monkeys — gathered in Thailand in the province of Lopburi on Sunday to celebrate the first Monkey Festival since the start of the pandemic.
The festival, organized by locals every year, is traditionally held on the last Sunday in November, although the 2020 celebration was canceled due to the pandemic. It is the first time in two years that the monkeys were able to feast on fruits and vegetables gifted by locals, according to CNN.
The purpose of the festival is to thank the monkeys for their part in Lopburi’s tourism, as this region of Thailand, sometimes known as “Monkey Province,” attracts visitors from all over the world.
The macaques were seen scurrying outside temples, playing with tourists’ cameras, and enjoying the gifts that had been left out for them.
The monkeys feasted on Bt100,000 (more than US$3,000 USD) worth of food, to the delight of spectators.
“Today’s special is durian, which is expensive. Lopburi monkeys like expensive things,” Yongyuth Kitwatananusont, who has organized more than 30 monkey festivals, told CNN. The durian fruit is one of the smelliest fruits in the world, so much so, that many hotels and airlines have banned the fruit because of its pungent odor.
More than 100,000 inbound travelers entered Thailand in November — a figure that is as high as the first 10 months of the year combined, the network reported.
Thailand reopened some of its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from 63 countries on Nov. 1. Travelers that meet the country’s vaccination requirements can skip quarantine if they show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.
Other provinces will reopen on a rolling basis. Thailand plans to reopen 20 provinces on Dec. 1 and an additional 13 border provinces are scheduled to reopen on Jan. 1, 2022.