Our first stop on 3 week trip to Bali and beyond was Ubud, the cultural beating heartland of Bali with serene water temples, gorgeous landscapes, amazing food and mischievous monkeys.
The morning after we arrived in Bali in the middle of the night, we walked around the busy streets of central Ubud with many little shops selling boutique handicrafts, delicious smelling restaurants and trying to step over all of the small offerings placed on the sidewalk. We wandered to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, a nature reserve and temple complex that felt out of pages of the Jungle Book.
As we crossed the entrance way, we have entered their world — one that my jet lagged self was wholly unprepared.
First, the guard taking the tickets (50,000 IDR – about $5 CDN) gently turned me around with smile saying, “Plastic bags are not allowed,” pointing for me to store it at the ticket office. Was it some noble concern about the environment? Well, probably yes but the larger concern was the monkeys! Even walking by on the sidewalk, my plastic bag with a couple things I bought drew the attention of a couple monkeys appearing out of the jungle. Apparently, the monkeys see a plastic bag and immediately are curious about the possibility of food in them and they are fearless in their investigation.
Visitors are not allowed to bring food into the sanctuary but there are vendors selling bananas that are a healthy option to give the monkeys. The monkeys climb all over the visitors and eat bananas out of their hands. The monkeys are completely fearless of food. After all, it is a sacred space devoted to them.
I sat down on a bench and a monkey started climbing on my shoulder. What I didn’t see was the other monkeys robbing me almost blind, literally. While I was giggling away with the experience, Bryan called out “Watch your glasses!” as curious little fingers reached for them. I got up and realized that my camera case was gone and one monkey had even taken an earring right out of my ear! Bryan managed to recover my camera case as the monkey quickly realized there was no food in it and threw it down a jungle slope but my wooden plug earring was long gone.
Monkeys 1 – Maggie 0
Tips for visiting the Monkey Forest:
The Monkey Forest was a pretty incredible experience, even though it is quite popular. If you’re planning on visiting, here are a couple tips:
- Go early in the morning. It is cooler and less busy as tour buses bring visitors from all over Bali. It opens at 8:30am
- Spend some time to explore all of the trails. There is a popular loop from the entrance to the main temple and then back along a boardwalk by the jungle to the water temple and the vine covered bridge. However, the trail continues past the water temple along the water to a little shrine which is a lovely walk, though can be a little slippery. There is also another nature walk by the amphitheater which is quieter and has some wooden swings and contemplation platforms in the forest.
- Most importantly, BE VIGILANT!