Monkey Forest road is the main tourist stretch in Ubud, lined with restaurants and shops, and teeming with taxi drivers and tour operators all vying for your dollar. This is the one thing that has truly worn me down since being here in Asia. The hey lady, hey darling, you need taxi, you need transport... is really irritating after a while. No! I don't need transport...not today, not tomorrow and not the next day either! For god sake...it's exhausting. Needless to say, I was happy to finally arrive at my destination and decided to avoid Monkey Forest Road as much as I could for the duration of my stay in Ubud.
The entrance fee for the Monkey Forest was 20,000 Rp, or $2, and included a map and a flyer with a warning regarding getting too close to or feeding the monkeys. Regardless of the warning however, they still allowed people to sell tourists bananas at the gate, which I am happy I passed on. I had no trouble getting up close and personal with the monkeys even with no food in hand. In truth, most of the monkeys just laid around or groomed each other. But as you get deeper into the park they tend to get much more aggressive. My first interaction was when I was trying to walk down a set of stairs being guarded by a few resident primates, on my way to what appeared on the map to be a small walking path deeper into the woods. As I tried to pass one of them grabbed the hem of my sari. What started out as a cute gesture turned troubling when he then began chewing on it. When I tried to pull it gently out if his grasp he hissed at me, still keeping a firm hold. Eventually another tourist came over with a stick, which only further agitated the animal, until finally he let go of my skirt and took hold of the stick, running away with his prize. I decided that maybe the stairs were not the best option and went around another way, which was under construction but in my eyes much safer.
The path ended up being a great find. For anyone visiting the Monkey Forest I recommend exploring this path just beyond the amphitheatre leading you over two rickety bridges to a serene area of the forest. There were almost no people, just a couple of women who ended up being good company, especially when we came across some yappy dogs. One of them taught me a phrase to say to the dogs which actually came in handy several times during my time in Bali. Apparently "check check" is what you say to a dog when you want it to go away. And it works! Along the path, which was surprisingly devoid of monkeys we came across some temples and other spiritual locations. It was really a lovely part of the park that I'm guessing most people do not get to see because they are so distracted by the monkeys.
On my way out of the park I had yet another run in with an ornery monkey when I turned down a quiet, lush pathway with no tourists in sight. Suddenly I came upon dozens of monkeys laying along the path. I decided to weave my way through them, which ended up being another poor decision. Again, the aggressive little bugger went for my skirt, but this time I was able to jump away from him before he could take hold. He hissed and lunged again and I jumped away again. This little dance continued a couple of more times before I was able to make my way away and he got bored. Time to leave I think.
Maybe if you decide to visit the Monkey Forest, which despite my trials I actually enjoyed and do recommend, try not wearing a skirt, or maybe it's the color blue that irritates them. Who knows. I think I've had my fill of monkeys though for a while.