Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an initiative that invites bloggers to post an alphabet-themed post every day (excluding Sundays) during the month of April. As part of this challenge, I’ll be sharing some of my travel memories to known and unknown places in the hope to inspire your travel dreams.
U is for…Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)
Our visit to the beautiful island of Bali was memorable. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in Ubud, for rock bottom prices, that spoiled us rotten. We snorkeled, we saw beautiful rice fields, we ate delicious food while watching the daily downpours. But thats not it. Our trip was also memorable for reasons that you might not guess.
On our first stop on the north coast, my husband and I both got the worst sunburn of our lives while out snorkeling. For a good week of our trip we could barely sit down or move without wincing in pain. And if that wasn’t bad enough, my husband was attacked by monkey’s at the Sacred Monkey Forest! Maybe I should have titled this post Attack!
I have had many experiences with monkey’s in the wild, enough to remember they may be cute, but they are indeed wild. I have been chased by a mama monkey in Mammalapurum (India) because I was taking a photo of her baby, I have had food stolen out of my hands at the Khaneri Caves in Mumbai and I witnessed thieving monkeys on the trek up to Emeishan in China. I try to remain cognizant that they are wild and do not follow our rules of engagement.
But most people forget this simple fact when they visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. Everyone is excited by the prospect of being up close and personal with monkeys, even feeding and petting them. As we approached the entrance to the forest, I could see groups of tourists sitting on concrete steps letting monkeys climb all over them as they fed them bananas. As first sight, my mind said “aww, so cute” and then it said “eek! keep those things away from me!”
I absolutely adore animals, and there is nothing greater in my book than seeing them in their natural habitat. But I do not want them climbing on me or invading my personal space. My husband (boyfriend at the time) was not scared at all. Thankfully, because as soon as we walked in, several jumped right up to say hello to him, one perching on his head for ages, waiting for bananas. Excellent. A great photo opportunity!
Seeing some of the monkeys get a little too handsy with the tourists, we decided to head deeper into the forest away from the banana sellers, tourists and masses of monkeys. The forest was beautiful, and reminded me of our time in Angkor Wat. The moss covered bridges, picturesque banyon trees and monkey’s scattered around minding their own business was much more up our alley.
Quietly sitting on a concrete ledge, we were busy watching a monkey across the path from us get his blue belly scratched by another monkey when all of the sudden a small monkey ran up to my husband, taking shelter under his arm. It soon became apparent that it was being chased by other monkeys and had just brought my husband into the middle of their fight!
Within seconds, my husband was covered in monkeys – one even hanging off his arm by it’s teeth (look closely at the photo!). And of course the good wife I am, I jump up to snap photos, while laughing hysterically. Once I realized they were actually biting him I got a bit scared and started to yell “Get them off!”. My husband was trying, but the little guy only climbed higher and held on for dear life.
It felt like eternity, but the monkeys finally ran off and left my husband and the monkey they were chasing alone. My husband was left with bite marks on his elbow and his shoulder, all of which broke the skin. I, of course, was freaking out since rabies is rampant in Bali, and particularly so in the monkey forest. I kept suggesting we go to the hospital to get rabies vaccinations, but my husband refused. (Cue me worried like mad for the next 4 months hoping symptoms would not appear! Thankfully they did not. However I do not recommend following my husbands blase approach!)
I was shaken, but my husband wanted to continue on our way through the forest. Was he brave or just brazen to let them climb on him again? I was a nervous wreck by this point and not interested in letting them anywhere near me! We continued on our walk through the forest, which was much calmer towards the end. Every day we walked past this forest I would tense up, knowing what those crazy monkeys were capable of and feeling bad for all of the unsuspecting tourists piling in!
The sad thing is, it’s not the monkeys fault. People should not be allowed to feed them or touch them. It will be hard work to train them now after so many years of conditioning, but something needs to be done. I have heard more and more reports in recent years that they now steel your food, cameras, and even pickpocket! Hopefully someone will step in at some point and forbid food or drink inside the forest, otherwise I imagine it will eventually need to be closed to the public.
So take this as a warning if you go, be prepared with pre-rabies vaccinations and do not carry any food or anything dangling with you!