I’m in Bali for two weeks before I have the chance to visit the monkey forest, in Ubud. “What are they like?” I almost sigh to the taxi driver one night as we pass the stone wall boundary and monkey statues, on the way to Boom Boom Bar.
“Monkeys funny,” he grinned. Then I hear a story about a pissed off British man walking out with bite marks and yelling about how “nobody tells ya that the monkeys bite ya!”
Cranky locals guard the entrances with sticks as they sit behind a table, charging 20,000 Rupiah for a finger of bananas (You can get the same amount of bananas for a tenth that at a lovely restaurant called Bali Buddha) and beating a couple of monkeys away.
Tourists who bought the bananas try to lure the monkeys to them for photos, but they have to be ready. The cunning things are fast. I sit by the path and a monkey joins me and puts his paw over my hand, and stares right at the nearest camera (Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to that particular photo). Its paw feels a little cool, damp and a bit unpleasant but it soon abandons me for a pretty Swedish tourist (who wouldn’t?) to steal her sunglasses.
She laughs as the nearby monkey trainers make dramatic noises of amusement. My dark-haired friend from Australia suddenly finds a monkey on her back (no pun intended). She screams as the monkey climbs higher and fiddles with her dress. The tourists chortle and surround her while they take their photos.
Occasionally monkey mothers are snarling and chasing each other around the path, almost like it’s part of a show. A monkey climbs up to a large woman resting on a bench and grabs her lipstick. The woman struggles for it, until a nearby monkey handler hits the monkey.
P.S. Monkeys don’t like the sound of a wookie growl.