Ubud’s monkeys will hate you

By Jacob Jarvis

When you see monkeys on TV they’re always cute but mischievous. Remember Marcel, Ross’ pet in Friends? He’d joke around but you know he’d never actually do anything too bad. Wrong – they’re all rowdy trouble starters and they’re proud of it.

Walk in to Monkey Forest sanctuary in Ubud, put down my water for one second, little long-tailed scoundrel comes and steals it. After shouting at him and a member of staff getting it back for me, I kept it tight to my chest, like I was in a desert with no other liquid scheduled to come my way.

Inside the tree covered walkways you can buy little bunches of bananas, so you can, you’d hope, get a nice and innocent photo of yourself feeding one of the cute miniature mammals. Wrong. Some old one will slink up, push your chest, maybe show some fangs, and take all the damn fruit he wants. Moral of the story – don’t try and befriend them. Instead, sit back, and watch on as the whole act of unrequited love between monkeys and visitors unfolds.

Honestly, these little fuzzy guys act all cute, and legitimately they are sometimes. The babies are a joke, just hanging off their parents, super lazy, super demanding, endlessly endearing. But the best in show has got to be the old boys. They stomp about. They don’t like the guests. They aren’t dealing with it. No falsity from them.

You know when you’re on a night out and there’s that one dude who gets belligerent drunk and wants to start on every one? That’s these guys just standard level, no beers needed. Get too close, you’re getting bumped in the chest. Go near their baby monkey and they don’t like you, you’ll get a growl. If you respect them, they’re chill enough most of the time. Annoy them, get too close for that social media selfie, or try and tease them with food, they aren’t going to let you have an easy ride.

My friend had a chocolate bar on him whole time we were in the reserve. I told him it’d be fine to eat, probably wasn’t because you just know they want to steal it, but I wanted to see him gamble. Instead he waits until we’re out of the gate. Monkey jumps out of nowhere, grabs the bar, my mate puts it in his pocket, the primate is unstoppable, clawing his pocket, until the food is thrown on the ground and he gets to munch away.

To the point – don’t go expecting super serene snaps for your friends. Do go if you want to see some animals thriving and not caring one bit about the people who pay for their keep, and literally biting the hands that feed them.


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