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This thieving monkey grabs some food
This monkey is peeing while shaking its tail dry at the same time!
MONKEY BUSINESS USUALLY REFERS TO SEXUAL SHENANIGANS AND MORE SO IN THIGHLAND...
But in this case, monkey business is literally just that, as in monkeys having fun. And with themselves with no human involvement!
For once, when you say you enjoyed monkey business when in Songkhla, Thailand, you can say so with a straight face as you really mean it. No double entendre and no double meaning and really no monkeying around!
Firefly now flies 4 times a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday) from Subang Airport to Hatyai so indulging in monkey business is a breeze. Hatyai is the capital of Songkhla province and the town of Songkhla is 45 minutes away.
All you need do is visit Tang Kuan Hill which is also called Monkey Hill for very obvious reason. Ironically the hill is supposed to have been a dog transformed into this hill as it managed to swim to shore before dying. Its companion the cat was drowned together with the rat and today the 2 outlying islands are called Cat and Rat islands in their honour.
Tang Kuan Hill is around 200 metres above sea level and is opposite the Malaysian Consulate which occupies a large tract of prime land as it is practically 5 minutes walk to the beach. So if you are involved in the OTHER kind of monkey business and need consular help, this is the place to go hat in hand.
The monkeys, like all semi-wild simians, are used to humans and happily treat their cousins as easy sources of food. The locals feed them with fruits and all sorts of comestibles so when they are hungry and see homo sapiens, they see food walking on 2 legs.
Again like all semi-wild monkeys living near humans or in our habitat, they are sly, opportunistic and often downright thieving!
I was warned about zipping up my bag and not to brandish food openly as the monkeys are liable to beg and failing which, snatch the food from my hands. This proved true as I saw a monkey clambering into the tram driver's seat and shamelessly stole a bag of buns!
This is nothing compared to cases of monkeys stealing handbags or handphones or wallets but I am told these monkeys are by now too wise to waste time pilfering anything that cannot be consumed. Still, I did not want to be an exception and end up as a statistic so I kept my valuables safely locked inside my bag and deep down my pockets.
Patting the monkeys is out of the question as I am sure they bite and probably viciously too. I saw a mother carrying her baby and they looked so cute it was all I could do to keep my hands inside my pocket. Unlike kangaroos which you can touch, pat and stroke even with baby joeys inside their pouches, nursing monkeys take short shrift with such gestures.
By the side of the cable car station at the bottom of Tang Kuan Hill is a large water tank with transparent glass walls. The sign reads 'Monkey's Fun Boat' and 'No Feeding Here'.
For the first time in my illustrious and glamorous life, I saw monkeys swimming and not only that, diving!
I never knew monkeys swim for fun let alone dive several feet down! This was so amazing I stood and gawked for 20 minutes on the road pavement watching their antics.
The monkeys were obviously enjoying themselves taking periodic dips and looked very much like humans treading water and keeping their heads above water. Often they would dive and even walk on the bottom of the tank before emerging.
Then they would shake themselves dry like dogs except their long tails would swoosh droplets of water everywhere. I even saw a domineering monkey bullying a young one by not allowing it to clamber out of the water! The little monkey had to swim and frolic about in the water till the older one's attention was taken elsewhere.
This proved to be such an amusing show I highly recommend it to every tourist to watch their antics. For free some more!
Watching monkeys dipping themselves by the river bank is one thing but seeing them doing so in a huge aquarium is a different kettle of fish. It is like watching fish inside a tank!
I must salute Songkhla authorities for taking this initiative to amuse and titillate visitors.
Azli watching a monkey warily
Azli gives up and enters the tram
Mama monkey and baby
This thieving monkey enters our tram searching for food
He sees food and makes a grab for it!
From the pavement I could see the goings-on inside the water tank
A monkey's playground with amusement rides!
A darling baby monkey suckling milk from its mum
A monkey getting out
I have never seen monkeys swimming inside an aquarium before so I was enthralled! You will too!
Fun for all
The alpha male bullying the young one
Look at their long tails
The pool party gets bigger
Finally I managed to photographed a monkey shaking its tail dry
A spectacular shot of a monkey with water dripping from its tail...or else it was just peeing
Omigod this monkey is peeing and shaking its tail dry at the same time! What a brilliant pixman I am!
Tang Kuan Hill is an important shrine and getting to the top of the 200 metre high hill is either by cable car or climbing 305 steps.
Of course at my age and in my condition I paid 30 baht (RM3) for the return cable car though I am told it is quite pleasant to trek the steps but I leave it to you to try and tell me.
King Rama IV ordered the construction of a pleasure pavilion but it was never completed. Later King Rama V visited the region and came to the top of the hill to pay respect to the Buddha and commanded it be completed. The Naga staircase was also constructed and completed in 1897. The views are both panoramic and breathtaking as from the hill top you can see all of Songkhla including the small peninsula that straddles the two seas and Songkhla lake.
At the top is also the Davaradi chedi housing the Buddha's relic built during the Nakon Si Thammarat period. Every October there is a major festival to clad the chedi with new cloth, offer alms to monks and a procession of the Buddha.
A new viewing platform has been built with a life sized statue of Luang Phor Thuad, the most famous and holiest of monks in Thailand whose statues are everywhere and almost all Thais have at least an amulet of his image. Luang Phor Thuad was born in Songkhla in 1582 and is also revered by Malaysians as he had visited Kelantan and he is said to be buried either in Tumpat or Perak. At the end of his life, he just vanished like Lao Tse which led to many rumours and sightings of him to this very day!
Praying to Luang Phor Thuad prevents illness or a speedy recovery and the monk's power in preventing accidents is especially noted. Many involved in terrible car accidents swear they survive or escaped with minor injuries was due to wearing amulets containing the image of Luang Phor Thuad.
There is a longish wait for the cable car which accommodates 20 and takes under 5 minutes to reach the top.
A signboard advises penitents like me to pray at all 6 shrines starting from 1 to 5 and to ring the bells as I go along in the clockwise direction and not widdershins. This spot is also popular with newly weds for their wedding photos and I met a couple with their crew who asked to be photographed with me since I was dressed to the nines as usual.
The entrance to the cable car
Watch tower from the 19th century and chedi containing Buddha's relic
Buddha made the wind blow the Thai flag so I could take this lovely photo
This is the final shrine to pray after you complete the earlier 4
The new viewing platform below with statue of Luang Phor Thuad the most famous monk in Thailand
Like all statues, Luang Phor Thuad faces the sea and town of Songkhla
Just don't lean backwards as you enjoy the panorama
Buddha made the bird fly past as sign of good luck
Luang Phor Thuad with chedi at back
Kee Hua Chee in front of the mirrored pedestal
Luang Phor Thuad gazing outwards and bestowing beneficence to Songkhla
2 girls gazing out
Kee Hua Chee and Luang Phor Thuad
Bride and groom and their photo team
Kee Hua Chee in matching white with new bride and groom
Kee Hua Chee and newly weds
It is not a glass slipper but leather is better
Perfect fit----both shoe and couple!
Applying gold leaf earns merit
Moralistic sayings though the last sentence should read 'that's good enough'
Life is short--so enjoy it while you can!
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