As a child I desperately wanted a pet monkey. I would have gladly given up the option of having a family dog in favour of one of those incredibly cute two-legged creatures. But, I grew up monkey deprived. Over the years, my monkey love had to be satisfied with a trip to the zoo or a National Geographic documentary. Soooo, can you imagine my excitement when the opportunity ‘to walk amongst monkeys in their natural habitat’ presented itself?! That’s right…I was beside myself that fateful day, when the first stop on my vacation itinerary was to one of Bali’s most popular tourist attractions—The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
With monkeys in sight, I practically sprinted to the entrance of the sanctuary. The little fellas were casually draping themselves over the entrance sign and the surrounding fence—an advertising executive couldn’t have positioned them any better. With the entrance fee paid; I was more than ready to be one with nature.
As I entered the sanctuary, the signage clearly stated, “It is important to treat the monkeys with the utmost respect as this is their home and you are a guest in it. Moreover, if you wish to feed the monkeys do so carefully, and if they take food from you do not attempt to retrieve it.” This guest couldn’t have agreed more.
It doesn’t take long for me to process that there were monkeys everywhere. And, I mean e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. There were monkeys in trees, monkeys sitting on rocks, fences and monkeys strolling around like they had nothing better to do. I couldn’t believe it! Holy smokes! I had to try and capture this awe-inspiring moment.
Not being technically inclined, I was a little nervous to take pictures with my brand new, never been used, digital camera. No sooner was the camera out of my knapsack and gingerly unwrapped from the plastic bag that was protecting it from the light drizzle falling, did a monkey sashay over and whip the camera from my unsuspecting hands.
Holy crap! In shock, all I could think of was…that monkey has my brand new, never been used digital camera! Much to the monkey’s disbelief—I snatched back the camera. My relief at having my camera back in my possession was only temporary because I received a VERY stern reprimand from of one of the sanctuary staff who was under the impression that I’ve retrieved food back from this precious little creature and not my camera.
Although, shaken from my scolding and attempted theft of my new technology, I wandered deeper into the sanctuary in search of one of the beautiful temples. Recovered, I stopped to admire one of the temple’s architecture. It’s quite amazing what can happen in a sanctuary when you stop moving for just a second, because that’s all it took before a monkey in single bound jumped on my shoulder and then, positioned himself comfortably on the top of my head.
Now, when one is in the middle of a sacred forest with a money perched on top of their head, a few thoughts, in rapid succession can cross your mind. Firstly, I hoped this monkey didn’t crap on my head. Secondly, what was I going to do if this monkey crapped on my head? Thirdly, this monkey had a fist full of my hair and it kind-of hurt. Fourthly, oh gawd…this freakin monkey was pulling my hair and it doesn’t feel nice…and there’s another one yanking on my shorts.
I was mistaken when I thought it couldn’t get any worse—the second monkey opened his little mouth as wide as he could and sinks his crooked yellow-stained teeth into my leg. My thoughts drifted, and I found myself wondering…does my health insurance cover monkey bites? I was fairly confident that—it didn’t.
I must confess, I have always prided myself on being an independent woman who can successfully navigate herself around the globe; but at this precise moment…I wanted someone who could get these stinking monkeys off me. Much to my relief, the very helpful sanctuary guide suggested that…I ‘keep moving.’
Gee, thanks. Have you ever tried to ‘keep moving’ with a monkey on your head? I can tell you…it’s not easy. Moreover, did you know that a monkey can remain firmly planted on your head even when you shake your head vigorously back and forth? Well, as vigorously as you can with a monkey parked on your head.
During my travels, I have always gravitated to the Aussies they’re fun and now, I know—they’re also dependable. A very kind Aussie gentleman came to my rescue and dislodged the monkeys from both my head and leg. If he had of asked, I would have married him on the spot. As for the sanctuary guide, I was ever so appreciative of the role he played during my monkey bonding time.
It is safe to say…I no longer understand why The Monkey Forest Sanctuary is a top tourist attraction. In fact, I can’t get out of there fast enough. Once safely outside of these sacred grounds, I reflect on the last 30 minutes of my life and, the first day of my Bali vacation. I conclude…as does anyone who has had the pleasure of a monkey encounter, they’re not those incredibly cute two-legged creatures you might think them to be. I then, take the opportunity to deliver a silent prayer of thanks to my parents for allowing this dog lover to grow up monkey deprived.
Activist, World traveller. Fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.