We arrived in Bali a few days ago! There is so much to say about wonderful Bali, and that is a blog post for another day. And we are behind an entire country, having not posted anything about Australia, save for our van tour. But living in a van does not come with a speedy internet connection and so we'll need to eek out some time here to get that one up, soon. In the meantime, we've got some monkey business to get to.
Monkeys. They are sacred on the island of Bali and they roam wild and free. In city streets, on hiking trails, and especially in the sacred monkey forest--a beautiful park dedicated as a natural habitat for these guys and gals.
Except, it's also kind of unnatural. Because they let tourists feed them bananas, and the forest also feeds them sweet potatoes, so each monkey probably eats 87 mini bananas and 5 pounds of potatoes per day. And because the monkeys are so used to humans being their daily and limitless food source, they come atchya! Women are warned not to wear earrings or necklaces (they will jump on you and grab it), men are advised against hats (same reason), and it's suggested that you don't bring in any food in your bags (they smell it) or every put your hands in your pockets (the monkeys think you're hiding something and want it, whatever it is.)
We visited the temple, in the also-suggested long pants, and had a lovely visit with some monkeys! They are so human-like, it's fascinating to watch. Their faces, their expressions, their hands... they all just look so much like ours. The most human behavior is the way the mothers nuzzle their babies. For a long time, I just sat and watched a mommy monkey with her baby hanging off her belly. I then turned, and saw a human mother carrying her baby in a sling with his little face pressed against her belly, too... and it was downright uncanny. Anyone who ever argued against evolution needs a trip to the zoo.
We decided to buy some bananas to feed them, having been suckered in by their cuteness and the novelty of it all. Chris took a step towards the banana stand, still 10 feet away, and reached into his pocket for his wallet. The monkeys recognized this behavior and closed in on us. Chris's hand was now out of his pocket, but they saw the money and still encroached. Once the money was out of the wallet, one aggressive male grabbed Chris's leg in a "hey buddy, i'm the one getting that incoming banana, or else!" gesture. Luckily, Chris had pants on so he wasn't scratched, and we quickly retreated, never getting bananas for anyone. Take that, monkey. Joke's on you.
One tourist we saw had a rougher confrontation. The Monkey Forest does average three bites a day supposedly, and we got to see one occur. This young french tourist had a flower in her hair, and the monkeys were intrigued by it. One jumped on her (this is kind of common), she freaked out, and it bit her arm. It didn't draw blood, but did break the skin in a bad-cat-scratch-but-much-thicker sort of way. I told her to go to the hospital to see if they recommend rabies treatment, because rabies is a problem on the island mostly from stray dogs but also a few monkeys. Her boyfriend told her it was fine, and they should just leave and get a drink. I think she listened to her boyfriend.
Some of the photos below are from the Monkey Forest, others are from our second monkey encounter, while sunrise climbing up to the top of a mountain. These mountain monkeys know that lots of humans come to their zone around breakfast time. They hang out and wait for leftovers and hikers who are intrigued enough to hand feed them.
That said, MONKEYS ARE ADORABLE!! So forget all that stuff I just said, because...who cares! Forget rabies and focus on babies. Forget about bites, and look at their eyes. These monkeys... they know things.