After finding the Banna Monkey Mountain Ropeway, I finally discovered what is left of the park on the other side of the Mekong river… Happy new year of the Monkey!
It all started by chance (although… It is really by chance, as we are entering the Chinese Year of the Monkey…), by spotting the Mekong River Ropeway on a bicycle trip around Jinghong, you can read about it in my report here… It turned out that this abandoned ropeway was in fact the main access to a park, the Mengle Culture Garden (猛泐文化园), located on the other side of the river, on what is called the Monkey Mountain (猴山). Not only had the ropeway been abandoned, the whole park had also been closed five or six years ago and there are no monkeys anymore but a jungle with a lot of abandoned buildings and scenic spots.
Here is my report of the Monkey Mountain exploration, it’s quite long because there are a lot of urbex all in one. But I could not find so much historical background on this place due to the lack of signs on the site and to the very little information online… Too bad.
The arrival of the Mekong River Ropeway
First of all, I found the arrival of the Mekong River Ropeway, the one I spotted on that other side. This used to be the only access to the park for visitors.
The sightseeing tower
In order to go from the ropeway to the park, people used to take an elevator on a sightseeing tower. Now the tower is also abandoned and overgrown. Because the elevator was removed, this is a very dangerous place to explore… Don’t go if you are scared of heights.
You can notice how the view on the other side of the Mekong is now destroyed by construction work removing trees and all green land near the river… The only access to the park now is by finding the overgrown stairs that go up on the hill…
The former park entrance was not far from the top of the tower.
The medical facility for monkeys
The first big building we explored was in fact a sort of hospital… This place is strange, it has a peculiar architecture, different from the other overgrown buildings that I found in the park, with a European-style facade…
Inside, it seems that at least parts of it corresponded to a medical facility for monkeys, with hospital rooms and medical equipement.
The cages (officially « apartments ») for monkeys
Near the « hospital », there were structures where the monkeys used to live: that gave me the creeps even more than the fact that exploring the place meant being in the jungle with snakes and spiders…
Indeed, the place in itself was very creepy because you can discover how the poor monkeys used to be treated… in concentration-style cages. This reminded me of a famous SF scenario…
In the park, there were other places where the monkeys were displayed… According to the map, it seems there were some specific places in the park where the monkeys were free but not many.
The forgotten historical heritage: Mengle Imperial Palace
In the Monkey Mountain, one can also find remains of an 800 years old pagoda, which was part of the Mengle Imperial Palace. Overgrown by grass, it needs restauration but looks very nice.
The semi-broken buddhistic temple
There was another historical pagoda with a buddhistic temple, partly abandoned.
The suspension bridge between the trees
I said this place was great, I even found an abandoned suspension bridge next to the temple!
The holy spring
And yet, there was one place in the Monkey Mountain that was still being used: the holy spring!
Many people came by car with empty cans to fill them up with this « fresh » water…
The hotel and swimming pool
On the hill, I could also see a hotel with a broken basket-ball field and a swimming pool, which I liked a lot.
There was also a big restaurant and dancing hall for tourists next to the hotel, the abandoned building looked very interesting to explore but there were three bad dogs guarding the place… I could already hear them from the main stairs.
I tried to enter by the back door, I thought the biggest dog was attached but his leash was in fact not around his neck… I think I ran really fast that time! To conclude, it was a park with a lot of different species of monkeys and other animals too. According to interviews I did with some local people, it seems that it closed because of a deal between real-estate developers and the local government about the redevelopment of the surrounding area… The shore of the Mekong River is getting destroyed on a large scale… Such a pity… At the same time, while the Monkey Mountain remains in this state of neglect, I recommend you go explore it! This was one of the best discoveries I have ever done, providing very nice hikes in nature as well!