Tucked away in the central town of Ubud, on the island of Bali, the “Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary” houses Balinese Macaque who delight in swinging high up in the trees and all around you, performing for the audiences of people coming from near and far. Walking into the lush green grounds, you can observe these energetic primates thriving in their natural environment. You can even buy bananas on the way in if you wish to feed them. Be careful though, monkeys can become aggressive if denied the indulgence of sweet fragrant bananas. I’ve experienced first-hand the woes of an unassuming tourist, innocently attempting to distribute the bananas in a timely fashion. These eager monkeys do not engage in any monkey business however. They take what they want, and don’t apologize for it either.
The expansive forest sits on an ancient tribal ground with temples draped in overgrown bright green moss where the monkeys reign supreme. What’s left of the ancient structures, they use as their own personal playground. They sit, scratch, wrestle with friends, and can cause you to sit and watch for hours. Some maternal monkeys feed and snuggle their tiny young, while the little one clasps tightly to momma monkey’s inviting embrace. I was in awe observing these wonderful creatures jump up, down, and all around the beautiful lush greenery with me standing in the center of it all. In some instances the monkeys would stop and shriek loudly, exchanging shifty looks from here to there.
The volunteers tending to the forest noted that the shrieks were due to the fact that three dominant monkey families shared the forest, which from time to time caused conflict. Like the monkey’s eager fight for the last standing banana, so the families sometimes needed to express their territorial dominance through aggression and confrontation. The abrupt confrontational wailing stunned me mid-gaze, causing momentary panic. Like the moment you hear something you’ve never heard before, a dissonant unfamiliarity, at first it shocks you, right before you put it into perspective. If ever in Bali, take the time to not only explore the beautiful beaches and dives sites on its many coasts, but also venture inland to discover its numerous natural wonders and surprises this small island has to offer.