Ubud // monkey forest adventures
when we first realized we would be staying just down the road from the Ubud monkey forest, we were excited. we had encountered monkeys in Thailand - and while they would not hesitate to break into your room and raid the mini-bar – they were mostly harmless if you locked your doors. monkeys are cute, right? they are fuzzy, and funny, and mischevious.
in order to walk to central Ubud [and Mexican food] we had to take a path that ran along the outside of the monkey forest. the area is fenced in but I think it’s more to keep unpaid tourists out rather than the monkeys in. they can easily climb over or under the fence and like to hang out on the trail where people walk and scoot past. we saw several monkeys the first time we went down the path, and though they startled us they left us alone.
on our second day in Bali we ventured into the monkey forest. you pay a few dollars to enter a fenced-in area where the monkeys live. it’s more jungle than forest, and the enclosure is dotted in temples and an exhibition center. like I said - the fence around the space actually doesn’t do much to keep the monkeys in. but because you can also buy food to feed the monkeys, and there are giant cages of sweet potatoes around the property… well they stay where the food is.
because there are so many tourists coming through all the time, and because most people actually want the monkeys to climb on them for pictures, the monkeys have no fear of humans. they know that in this patch of jungle, they are in charge. any time you unzip a bag, put your hand in your pocket, or even walk towards them they assume they will be getting food.
the monkeys will try to eat, and will actually eat, just about anything. we saw a man smoking a cigarette. of course a monkey sees something in his hand and thinks it’s food, and tries to grab it. the man thinks this is hilarious, lets the monkey climb on this shoulder and gives the monkey his cigarette. the monkey jumps down with its prize and tries to take a bite. monkey holds cigarette at arms length and gives it a dirty look, then bites it again. at this point I had to walk away because I wanted to smack the guy who gave it to the monkey.
Husband and our friend Sean were watching one tourist with dreadlocks who was letting three monkeys pick through his hair. Sean must have unconsciously put his hands into his pockets because a baby monkey jumped up and grabbed his arm. when he pulled his hand out and there was no food, the monkey bit his hand. it didn’t break the skin, but we all freaked out a bit and poor Sean ended up at a clinic getting a series of rabies shots.
the doctor couldn’t confirm that there had ever been a case of monkey rabies, but he recommended getting the shots anyway. [you can read more about it on Jackie’s blog.]
from that point, we were understandably nervous every time we had to walk past the forest. two days after the bite incident, we were walking back from lunch and made a critical mistake. we were carrying a bottle of wine and some soap in plastic bag. a monkey waited for Husband to pass, dropped down out of a tree behind him and went for the bag. Husband pulled it out of reach but then the monkey bared its teeth and lunged… he gave up the bag and soap and wine went flying. the wine bottle shattered all over the trail but the monkey [and two others that appeared from nowhere] went for the soap. they unwrapped it and started eating. our only consolation from this terrifying experience is that the offending monkeys probably had painful digestive issues for a week.
[notice how they all want to know what's in my bag? this was obviously before the bite incident]
from that point, we carried a backpack with us and put everything inside when walking down the trail. once Jackie was almost accosted because she was clutching her purse, but we were saved by some passing scooters who backed the monkeys away.
not all monkeys were frightened of the scooters though. we saw one monkey jump out of a tree and onto the back of a scooter to snatch a plastic bag away from some poor girl. all four of us saw it happen, but we can’t seem to agree on whether it was chips or bread or a sandwich.
regardless… these monkeys are crazy and I would advise extreme caution if you decide to visit the monkey forest. don't take any bags with you [especially not plastic ones] and keep your hands out of your pockets. if you want an idea of what to expect, you can search youtube for videos of monkeys doing crazy things to people in the Ubud monkey forest. and, well, good luck if you decide to go!
the cup of coffee that fueled the writing of today’s post was sponsored by Hayley. she drinks her tea with 2 scoops of sugar and blogs about life, travel, and adventure over at livin' it up as HayUp.