Primate takes bite out of UP contributor’s dream Thailand vacation

monkey2PHI PHI ISLAND, Thailand —One would expect the vacations you see advertised on commercial breaks, or the destination vacations they give away on “Wheel of Fortune,” to be beautiful and relaxing. My trip to Thailand met those expectations — kind of.

Phi Phi Island (pronounced pee-pee) is a tropical vacation spot in Thailand. The island is not exposed to the pollution that infiltrates the west coast, so the beaches are some of the few pristine that remain. The island has countless restaurants, bars and shops. Numerous small islands surrounding the main island are each famous for their own unique attractions.

One in particular, Monkey Beach, is one of the most renowned.

“You have to go see the wild monkeys,” locals say. “They are very sweet. You can take photos with them!”

Sounds incredibly intriguing, right? No one on my trip seemed too excited to visit monkeys but I was. After much convincing, we all loaded a taxi boat and headed to Monkey Beach.

Visitors flood the island chasing monkeys with GoPros, feeding them fruit and snacks, and putting the monkeys on their backs and shoulders. It was like a Thai petting zoo — except everything was wild and rabid.

After a while roaming the beach, I spotted the smallest of primates on the island, the runt of the litter, so-to-speak. He was trying to get water out of a bottle to no avail. I gathered that he was probably too young and too weak to put his opposable thumbs to good use.

After watching him struggle, my heart was melted by his innocence and charm. I was forced to help (cuteness would not allow anything else). I walked over to unscrew the cap to the bottle and the baby monkey immediately became fond of me. He jumped on to my arm and I could not do much but allow him to treat me like his personal jungle gym. The little rascal tried taking my sunglasses and putting them on, and even pulled my hair a bit, but it was all in good fun.

Or so I thought.

In a few minutes, we had attracted a larger monkey as ferocious and intimidating as King Kong. The untamed, primitive beast came out from behind the trees and began sprinting at me on all fours, fueled by what I took to be hatred and discrimination. The little friend I had just let climb on me and invade my personal space had turned on me— the ultimate betrayal.

I turned and locked eyes with the giant monkey’s primal gaze. A shiver went down my spine, immobilizing me until my fight-or-flight response kicked in. Lord knows this 5-feet 4-inch, 100-pound girl did not stand a chance against the untamed beast — homegirl was going to run. I hopped up as quickly as I could muster, but the crazed, rabies-infected idiot had already latched on to my elbow with his teeth.

monkeymadI slung him off, but it was too late. A crimson river of red was already dripping from my arm.

Back on the mainland, in the Thai hospital where I got the first of five immensely painful rabies vaccinations, I thought about the fact that I was the only one who really wanted to see monkeys, and that my hopes and dreams had literally come back to bite me.

I knew monkeys were mischievous, but I didn’t know they had an insatiable craving for blood.

My Thailand vacation was still sweet after my ravenous encounter. Part of me enjoyed the adrenaline rush — not in the moment, but after. I learned I have a taste for action and adventure.

Shelby Strickland

UP contributor

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