One-A-Week # 1 Thieving monkeys and auspicious kings in Bali

Nestled away in the heart of Bali, the Monkey forest of Ubud is home to some 600 Balinese long-tailed Macaque. They’re a popular tourist attraction, with many people coming to Ubud to watch their cheeky shenanigans and whimsical appearance. No matter how naughty they may be, people love them and the monkeys know people love them.


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The monkeys have come to realise that they can do most things to tourists and they have developed some very intrusive manners; crevices will be searched; any food will be found; water bottles will be taken; clothes will be pulled; shoulders will be perched upon. And you’d better make sure they don’t catch you hiding food from them. They are short tempered little creatures and have no problem getting rough with people eight times their size, whom hide food.


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While in the midst of a group of people, my partner was approached by a large male who though he saw Wanida place some food in her pocket – to him there was no difference between a chapstick and a banana. Regardless he started tugging at her pants. We tried to shoo him away, but he did not appreciate this. He left promptly after that, but not before giving a little bite to Wanidas leg.

After following the walking trail that leads through the forest for several hundred metres, we eventually reached a large temple with marble floors. This appeared to be the congregation point of the monkeys, with some 50 monkeys scattered around the temple. Amongst it all, one individual stood out. Bigger than all the others by far and hosting a minagiery of suitors, he was the king. He was happily perched on top of a large statue. When he moved others got out the way. He was very intimidating, so we didn’t hang around here for too long.

We headed off down the track to an area with only a couple monkeys, thinking that this would be a good place to sit down for a spell. We were wrong. Almost immediately upon sitting down, without us knowing, a monkey had wandered over and was in the midst of trying to steal our water. After the earlier events of the day we were not willing to intervene, so he got our water.


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Despite being robbed of our water and leaving with a cut leg, we had no bad feelings for the place. The monkeys, for the most part, are controlled enough to let you walk amongst them harm free and are inquisitive enough to climb unto your shoulder if persuaded by a banana.


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