Bali is a beautiful island known for beaches, surfing, relaxing and, of course, the infamous Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest.
Located in central Ubud (which is almost central Bali), the Monkey Forest is actually part of a Hindu temple complex that was built between 600 and 700 years ago. It is a lush jungle area surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Ubud and it is a definite tourist hot spot. But make no mistake, this jungle is not ruled by tourists, in here it’s all monkey business.
Now, I love animals. In fact I love all animals, including those that don’t seem very lovable, and I’m rarely nervous around them. But, with all the horror stories and blog posts about monkeys jumping on people and stealing their stuff in the hopes of getting a late afternoon snack, well that’s enough to put a healthy sense of paranoia into even the strictest vegetarian.
Realistically, your chances of getting bit by a monkey in the forest are quite low especially if you keep to yourself, avoid making eye contact, and refrain from carry bananas in your backpack. You actually have a way better chance of getting run over by a scooter than suffering a monkey bite. It does happen though so follow the forest rules and avoid a trip to the rabies clinic.
And so, after a lengthy group discussion regarding how badly we all wanted to see the monkeys (and if it was worth the 80,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) price tag), we figured it was worth chancing a primate attack if we got to see some monkeys.
The first monkey I saw was actually on the large side and I was happy to keep my distance from him. Once you see those big canine teeth it’s easy to imagine how painful a bite would be. Other people seemed unconcerned though and the masses crowding around the big guy made me shocked that more tourists aren’t bitten on a daily basis.
The temple grounds were huge and there were some beautiful banyan trees as well. These are one of my favourite types of trees as they grow to a massive size and are usually hundreds of years old. I bet the monkeys love climbing in them!
As nervous as I was around the monkeys, it sure was a cool experience to see them wandering around and doing their monkey things. I’m a fan of stepping back and not interfering with nature, allowing me to watch it in its most organic state. Monkeys are some of the most fascinating and complex creatures on Earth so there’s a lot to see if you’re paying attention. Of course sometimes, they just like to put on a show and look adorable.
All in all we made it through the forest with no incidents (except for one monkey getting cheeky and swiping at one of our backpacks), and it was a great place to wander around the beautiful temple grounds and see some monkeys!