Before anything else, you would have to buy a baby macaque. This will cost you something between 1,000 and 10,000 baht. Once you have your own little monkey, you take it to Kadaejae Monkey Training School, where Khun Luesak Papthanawat will teach it various things such as recognizing a ripe coconut, taking it down from the coconut tree and responding to all sorts of commands. The classes take three months and in the end you take back home a qualified monkey valued at 50,000 to 100,000 baht.
There is high demand for schooling when it comes to monkeys and not all pupils come from coconut plantations. Some luxury resorts in Southern Thailand regularly hire monkeys to get rid of the coconuts which otherwise left to faith might fall and injure one of the guests – a major risk of trials and paid damages.
Normally you pay 10,000 for the monkey, 4,000 for the training, and you get yourself a Monkey Business. You can go further than this as Mr. Leusak also offers a Masters program. During this module of superior education, your macaque learns the Wai – the Thai greeting (front paws pressed onto each other while bowing), how to ride a bicycle or to untie complicated knots. By the time the Masters program is completed you already have a show monkey worth 100,000 to 300,000 baht. That is 6,000 euro for a monkey – not bad, not bad.
Khun Luesak had six students at the time of my visit, aged 1 to 3 years old. The practice took place every morning at 6AM. Monkeys had bananas for breakfast, milk as a snack, rice for lunch and mango and bananas for dinner. All inclusive.
I spent one night in Khun Luesak’s house, in the countryside. I washed my body using a plastic pot, I had (again) duck and chicken with rice and green curry and a spicy fish soup. We traveled together on his old saleng to get some beer and we talked. Mostly he talked. The roosters woke me up in the early morning.
How to get to Kadaejae Monkey Training School: from Surat Thani going to Donsak turn left at km 28, go straight for 3 km, turn left again, keep it straight and you arrive in Mr. Luesak’s garden (do not let yourself fooled by the curve on the main road, just keep it straight).