Monkeys, I love monkeys! Or so I thought. During my visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali, I soon learned the difference between a real live monkey and the ‘cuties’ portrayed on various TV programs. I discovered that monkeys in real life aren’t sweet, cuddly pets, they are wild and unpredictable animals and should be treated as such. We didn’t have any unpleasant confrontations with the monkeys during our time in the Sacred Forest, and I only wish I could have enjoyed the visit more. The Sacred Forest sanctuary was quite lovely with its lush tropical canopy and wonderful moss covered statues scattered throughout the habitat. If I wasn’t so freaked out by the monkeys I would have have been happy to spend more time exploring the area.
Here are five tips to live by if you ever find yourself hanging out in a forest with a whole bunch of monkeys.
1. These fellas are not so little, and they can be aggressive. As we got out of our car, our guide casually mentioned we should put away all eye glasses, hats, water bottles, food, and take off anything sparkly or dangly. This is because the little buggers will steal anything they can get their hands on! They’ve also been known to rip earrings off an earlobe, ouch! Needless to say, I hadn’t thought to bring contact lenses and had to be led around the forest, half blind and terrified, convinced these now blurry, humongous beasts were lurking out there somewhere plotting to ambush me.
2. Don’t show your teeth, smile or look directly at a monkey, this is a sign of aggression to the macaques and one of the main reasons people get bitten by monkeys. Check out this ‘biting’ video posted by Maria from GoneSeoulSearching.com:
3. Vendors outside the Sacred Monkey Forest are more than willing to sell bananas to unsuspecting tourists, despite the signs warning you NOT to feed the animals. Food is another thing that really excites the macaques and food fights may occur. Don’t get in between a macaque and his food, in fact don’t hold, or possess food anywhere on your body.
4. If a monkey does decide to take an interest in you, they may jump on you to explore further. Don’t scream, don’t run. Stay perfectly still, let the monkey do its thing, and eventually he/she will get bored and move on.
5. The monkeys are long-tailed macaques and there are about 600 living in the relatively small forest. This guarantees that you will see monkeys, lots of monkeys, and you need to understand this is not a zoo, you are a visitor in the macaque’s habitat. There are no barriers between you and the animals, and mingling will occur. Never forget these are wild, potentially dangerous animals. Respect them, and the fact that you’re in their home, and you’ll have a nerve racking but wonderful experience.
Ok. I have to admit this little guy below was kind of cute and cuddly!
Here are a few more photos from the Sacred Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali.