Sunday, December 29, 2013

Monkeys, Munkees and Minkeys

Munkee Fun in Fab Bali

Yes, yes I know that's not how you spell "monkey" but hey this is my blog and I'll slaughter the language if I feel like it. Let me say that monkeys are really cute, fun and playful… until they're not. I saw both sides of that equation during several encounters with our furry little simian buddies the last few months, particularly here on Bali. I should mention that while there are several kinds of monkeys in this general part of the world, unless you go looking, the only kind you are likely to see are Long-Tailed Macaques. About the size of a medium dog maybe. The lesson learned early was "NO FEEDING THE MONKEYS BANANAS" offered for sale by thoughtful vendors nearby  trying to make a living. That cute little group of moms and their babies will disappear and you'll find yourself in the middle of a Horde (I kid you not) of bigger, greedier males and short a few bananas. Then they will be all over you (literally) and demanding more food. You of course will have none and then they will get even more insistent… I think you get the picture.

On the "not cute" side of the equation, we were walking through the Pura Pulaki or Monkey Temple in NW Bali near Permuteran and were warned of the very aggressive monkeys there. We did see a lot theivery and overall poor relations between some of the local religious pilgrims and our furry counterparts but nothing menacing or overly aggressive. However, when we were leaving, one of them did end up with an attack that escalated very quickly as I stepped between in to help some protection. Then it got very interesting and I got to see how big his canine teeth really were. He wold charge and I would charge back but only enough to stop him and back him up a little. Then he would circle and charge/attack again and again. I'd charge back, but not so far that he felt corned or without options other than actual teeth sinkage someplace tender. I was pretty sure that if we turned and ran, someone would end bitten just as surely so we did this back and forth dance towards the exit steps until finally he gave up and we could pull a famous SnaggleTooth "Exit Stage Left" maneuver.
The primates in the Monkey Forest in Ubud were waaaaaayyyyy more congenial I think due to regular feeding and care by professionals and paid staff. I really liked this place and have walked through it many times in the week or so I've been in Ubud. Always something fun or cute to see and lots of amused tourists and their kids - fascinated with the monkeys as I think we all were or still are.
Some of the wonderful Monkey Forest...


Buffet line...

Some of the bigger males can be pretty big and aggresive although not much so in the Monkey Forest. The Temple at Pura Pulaki however was another story 

Some of the things I saw that sort of stuck in my mind about monkey encounters in the Ubud Monkey Forest and elsewhere:

  • We saw a monkey steal someones water bottle and cart it off to a safe distance. It then unscrewed the cap and drank the water like a human being would do. When the water bottle was empty he tossed it away and sauntered off… like some people would do….
  • While I was sitting on some steps while a nice German couple took pics with my iPhone camera, they pointed out that a young adult monkey was quietly unzipping the dual zips on my daypack and starting to get in, all without me feeling anything and in just a few seconds. This is a sticky zipper and that little rascal was almost totally in there all stealth like. Ninja Thief Monkeys indeed!!
  • There was a commotion and we all watched a young adult monkey wrestling with a large centipede (maybe about 6" long so large but not giant and about half the size of the one on my mat during evening Satsang in the Thailand Ashram but that is another story). He was not having a lot of luck until a really big Alpha Male stepped in and like a pro took control of the situation. Through an effective technique of roll and point, he did not get stung, but beat the poor "pede" to a pulp while having a little fun and then finished with a yummy snack. Burp!

There were lots other episodes like watching monkeys tear into other climbers packs and take off with any snacks tucked inside faster than you could blink. Watching even the oldest and most decrepit monkeys at the Tonsai cliffs in Thailand run circles around some truly burly talented climbers just struggling to stay on the same hunk of rock. Stuff in the 5.13 plus category if you're a climber. Sort of puts things in perspective for me as to who the real climbers are out there (hint - not us).



Chapeau means "Hat"...
Huge and amazing Komodo Dragon sculpture just lurking there in the depths...


"Yeah so what do you want Mr Fancy Blue T-Shirt Guy Huh??? You lookin' at me? You Lookin' at ME…??"

Wrapper says Sweet Potato, but pretty sure there's a banana in there somewhere...
Yeah this sculpture is pretty much exactly what you think it is… 

Beautiful river canyon and sculptures down at the bottom of the Monkey Forest
Yeah is there anything cuter than a baby monkey??


So that is all I have right now on monkeys except that it still sometimes seems a little weird to be walking down the street here and passing dogs or cats and then have a monkey just run across the road in front of you or drop in from a tree branch. Pretty cool stuff. The kid in me sure likes it anyway. Til next time...