“I was bitten by a monkey.”
“WHATTTT!?” my eyes widened.
My friend Michelle and I had met in Boston, at my kickboxing gym. She was kind enough to invite me out in Bali, and as she is a native Indonesian, she knows things about the country that I don’t.
Like, for example, this monkey forest. Also, the beautiful restaurant we were in, and the following restaurants we would visit later.
“I mean it really wasn’t that big of a deal, I went to the doctor’s got some shots or whatever, and, like, it’s fine. We were also advised not to bring any snacks or whatever in our bags.”
In front of us were three deserts. Something caramel, a molten chocolate lava cake, and ice cream with raspberry sauce. I had shown up late (taxis in Indonesia can be tricky, and the traffic, horrendous).
I knew I had to see this place. The place where monkeys roam.
After a night of festivities, I went back to my hostel and asked around.
“Have any of you been to the Monkey Forest in Ubud? How much is it? And how far is it away?”
Every single person at my hostel had been to Ubud. It was about 500000 rupiahs to rent a car for a day and head there.
My entire budget was about $200 USD. I couldn’t justify going solo, so I consoled myself with a surfing lesson.
About seven days later, I ended up in Kuta.
This is where everything began to fall into place.
When I arrived, everyone was exhausted from Sky Gardens. This time when I asked, I got seven people to agree to split the cost.
This was the best-case scenario.
In the end, six of us ended up going to Ubud, with the destination being the monkey forest. Me, and the ‘Mad Lads,’ a group of dudes who had spent the past six months harvesting bananas in Australia.
Six months of harvesting bananas could drive anyone mad.
So, the next day, we piled into a car with a hired driver, and began our journey to the monkey forest.
As we pulled onto the highway, we passed a motor-scooterist texting and scootering.
“This place is another world.” I muttered.
“I’m glad I’m not driving,” someone from the back said.
Our driver pulled off and showed us a factory where native Indonesians hand-crafted jewelry. No one wore safety goggles.
Then, we piled back into the car, and went back into the unpredictable traffic. Another scooter driver drove on the edge of the road, clearly on the wrong side.
“I’m so glad I don’t have to drive.”
We stopped at a Hindu temple, and wore sarongs to get in.
We then stopped for a brief lunch.
Finally, we made it to the monkey forest.
This place did not disappoint. Monkeys were everywhere. We stepped into the forest and large sculptures greeted us.
Monkeys flew from tree to tree, and little monkeys screeched for their mothers.
Jordan, one of the lads, figured out that he could get a monkey to sit on him by holding food in his hand.
“Quick take a picture!” I snapped a couple.
Keven quickly followed suit.
Remembering my friend Michelle, I suspected this was risky business.
I sat next to a group of monkeys.
“Hey, get a picture of this!” I sat down, and tried to face the camera.
A monkey jumped onto my bag.
“Eeek!!” I screeched, and sat back down and chuckled nervously. They hadn’t gotten me, but I was still thinking about rabies. My brain is strange like that.
We piled back into the van after about an hour and a half of playing with, and watching the monkeys.
“Want to go to Sky Gardens for dinner?”
We quickly agreed that this would be our course of action and piled back into the van.
It was a day well-spent.