And so, we decided to go on a mini-tour of central Thailand, before returning to collect our visas, and then catching the sleeper train up to Chiang Mai.
We caught a third-class train (hard seats but full of friendly locals) up to Lopburi, about 4 hours north of Bangkok. After reading our Lonely Planet properly for the first time, we had learned that this town has a gang of monkeys who live there amongst the temple ruins, and although they cause a fair bit of monkey-related mischief, the locals celebrate them because of the tourist money they bring in.
We arrived after dark, and busied ourselves with finding a hotel and getting some supper, all the time keeping our eyes out for these monkeys and becoming slightly cynical about the town's reputation. However, we went out to explore the town the next morning - and we were not disappointed...
... there were monkeys perched in a small group above the building opposite our hotel... and there was another gang playing in some big water bowls and on some rope ladders which were purpose built for them... and they were sitting around outside the shop where we called for water... so far, all of them at a discrete distance.
We decided to visit some nearby temple ruins, and when we paid our 30 baht entrance fee we were presented with a stick. After about five minutes, we discovered why... we quite literally had monkeys on a stick! And also on our heads! And also one in my rucksac (the little monkey!!)... one of them pinched the stick off us and I swear that he was taunting us with it - we had to pull off a masterful distraction tactic to get it back.
Dave never thought I'd throw a monkey out of my bag, but he was only in it for the crisps... and the ipod... and possibly the passport too. Ah well.