13 Jun Visiting Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali, Indonesia
If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. We may seem cute but we’ll rip off your face if you dare look us in the eyes.
That’s what the information sign of the entry gate at the Ubud Monkey Forest should read, owing to the legendary temperamental behaviour of the crab-eating macaques who live there. Ubud Monkey Forest is also a Hindu temple complex and nature reserve, which may hopefully offset a proportion of the hostility of the monkeys to restore a much needed balance of zen. And all the more reason to respect the spiritual land and its creatures who live there.
A few things to mention on the behaviour front:
1. Don’t look a monkey in the eye or they will accept this as a stand-off and screech to high hell, possibly lashing out.
2. Don’t feed monkeys food or drink other than the bananas provided
3. Do not approach a monkey that’s pregnant or with a small baby (more lashings)
4. If a monkey feels like jumping on your shoulder or head for a bit shake it off immediately or risk a brutal scalping
5. Have a bloody good time
We entered the main gate (it’s encouraged that you pay, or you can slip right by) and spotted more macaques popping up from foliage in all directions. A handful were busy grooming each other’s rude parts without a care in the world as the more prudish of the pack practiced tree acrobatics. I caught it all on camera.
Then it got a bit lairy. Out from nowhere a monkey leapt onto my water bottle and began to yank furiously. I recognised this sequence of events from Gladiators when Wolf takes down a contestant from the rings in Hang Tough. So I let the bottle go. I turned back to witness the Artful Dodger of monkeys and his gang unscrewing the cap and lapping up the h2o in the afternoon sun. It was then that I fully accepted the crab-eating macaques of Ubud Village in Bali are no all-singing-all-dancing-jungle-book-props but vicious little buggers if you don’t play by their rules.
Behaviour like that isn’t always common and the monkeys do play nice when they feel like it, so don’t let that put you off visiting. Although if they bite you will have to immediately head for the nearest hospital for a rabies shot. I kid you not.
It will take you no more than half an hour to get your photos in, and if you choose to do so, feed the monkeys bananas from the banana cart at 40p /$80 a go. We felt braver on exiting the forest and decided to offer the little fellas outside the grounds peanuts by hand, which went surprisingly well. No screeching, scalping or tantrums. And the macaques behaved themselves too.