On a recent trip to Bali, we decided to visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. An old Hindu temple where over 700 monkeys roam free. We’d been there before and had a good time. Thao, my traveling companion, was a bit intimidated by the monkeys the first time we visited the park but this time around she was much more bold. So we bought a bunch of bananas at a local market, stuffed them into my backpack and headed into the park.
The monkeys are intimidating, for sure. The males especially are very territorial, chasing each other around. And if you have food — anywhere — they’ll find it and take it from you. And not just food: jewelry, cameras, anything they can get their hands on. They will climb up your body like a tree to grab what they can. They’ll dig through your bags, I even had one put it’s hand in my pocket.
On our first trip to the park, we discovered that if you sit down quietly and hold a banana over your head, a monkey will grab the fruit from your hand and sit on your shoulder while it peels and eats it. It’s a great photo op. So with this in mind, I sat down on the temple steps while Thao worked the camera. I quickly pulled a banana out of my bag and held it over my head and two monkeys jumped on my shoulder at the same time. The larger one took the banana and sat down next to me to start eating the fruit. Meanwhile the smaller monkey scrambled up my leg before settling on my shoulder. It was cute, so reflexively I reached out to pet it. BIG MISTAKE! The other monkey leaped at me, scratching my hand and sinking her teeth into her my flesh.
I made my way to the first aid station and after cleaning the wound with soap and water and applying some disinfectant and a band aid, I returned to the scene of the crime. Only then did I bother to read the signs.
Only then did I realize what had happened. The two monkeys were a mother and her child. I broke the rules, touching the baby monkey and the mother went crazy.
Lesson learned. Still a fun day with the monkeys.