I arrived in Bali a few days ago, straight from Hong Kong. Upon arriving at the airport, I didn’t waste much time and grabbed a taxi straight to Ubud for 350,000 rupiah (which is roughly the equivalent of $35 CAD; 10,000 rupiah = $1 CAD, at least it’s easy to convert!).
I chose to go first to Ubud for a few main reasons:
- I had heard that Ubud was a cultural hotspot and a good place for arts and crafts (batik, weaving, woodworking);
- I wanted to avoid the party scene I had heard about in Kuta;
- I wanted to ‘get off the beaten track’ and find a nice quiet place I could relax that was not so touristy.
Little did I know at the time, Ubud is ultra touristy. I was expecting to find a quiet little village, and instead found a traffic jammed town filled with the roaring sound of scooters and motorbikes buzzing up and down the streets. All day, every day. Where was my peace and quiet? But more on that later.
The first day I arrived I took a trip to the Monkey Forest, located right in downtown Ubud and only a short walk away from my hostel. The fee to get in was 40,000 rupiah, which seemed like a pretty good deal. As this was my first time in a monkey forest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. At the entrance, they were very clear on the rules about not bringing any food or drinks into the forest, and not approaching the monkeys to pet them. However, once inside the forest, there were several stalls selling bananas or other monkey treats specifically for the tourists to use to feed the monkeys.
The monkey treats worked like a charm. Once a tourist had a banana in hand, he or she was immediately surrounded. One, two, sometimes three monkeys would jump onto the person trying to get the food. Word of wisdom: give the monkeys their food and don’t try to make them work for it.
It seemed like almost everyone wanted that priceless monkey selfie with a monkey on their shoulder. I was not buying it, however, avoiding the monkeys as much as I could. It’s not that I don’t like animals, it’s just that these ones weren’t the nicest monkeys I’ve ever seen. I saw two people getting bitten by a monkey in the short (under an hour) time I was there. Rabies, anyone?
This last photo is of a Balinese woman laying out an offering and a monkey promptly stealing it as soon as it is laid out.
I met some more monkeys on my hike up to Gunung Batur, an active volcano in the area, that were much friendlier.
Have you visited any monkey forests before? What did you think of them?
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