Imagine a temple in a dense forest with moss growing on statues and monkeys prowling the grounds. Sounds like an episode of Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones? Well not exactly, but welcome to the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. Of course, I’m pretty sure Tomb Raider wouldn’t have a bunch of tourists who sometimes forget their etiquette and throw cigarettes at the monkeys. However, once you leave the main area to explore further it become quite easy to forget about them and simply enjoy the sights.
The temple feels quite magical with an oppressive feeling granted by the forest canopy. However, know this, the monkeys are far from shy and can sometimes act quite aggressive. People are often surprised by the monkeys’ behavior, but let’s not forget these are wild animals after all.
I was a victim myself of these little fellas. One adventurous individual tried to snatch my whole bag, but only managed to escape with my water bottle. The problem was that my bottle also contained my water filtration device. I waited under the tree in which it was perched for a good two hours, but it never dropped it. I still don’t believe my bottle was interesting enough to justify such a close examination. I don’t know if he managed to open the bottle or simply broke the cap, but he almost dumped the content on my head…. Talk about adding insult to injury!
Some of them were quite eager to climb on you. One baby climbed up my skirt, while another fully grown landed on my head (don’t worry, they’re not gorilla-sized). Looking back it was quite comical, but at the moment I was wondering if I was about to be swarmed by a crowd of monkeys. One of the thing that really took me aback was how human their hands looked. Tiny, soft and agile, they also have nails that can scratch. If you do get scratch or bit, a very unpleasant rabies treatment is waiting for you.
I had to rescue a girl that was being attacked by three full grown monkeys. We surmised they were angry at the attention she was giving a baby monkey. With them, it seemed it was all about intimidation. I stepped in, first pulling her quickly away from the attacking monkeys, then trying to make myself seem bigger and more imposing (like you would for a puma in Canada), and finally using a big voice to try to shoo them away. They hissed back at me and showed their teeth, but eventually they did crawl away. Fortunately for the girl, their teeth hadn’t pierced her jeans and she didn’t need medical attention (rabies, remember…)
Many people got things stolen that day or got their plastics bags torn apart by monkeys who were hoping to get something tasty or shiny. Crazy little fellows those monkeys….
Let’s not forget the very dark statues, like this one of a demon gobbling up a screaming girl.
Or this one of creepy lizards, who seem to be keeping an eye on you as you walk the grounds.