I have encountered many monkeys through my travels and feel I can safely say, monkeys be crazy. I’ve meet monkeys from Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia. All be crazy.
When I say crazy, I don’t mean it in a bad way. Monkeys are still one of my favourite animals. Monkeys are like miniature, adorable, hairy people. They are mischievous, funny, silly, and curious. How couldn’t you love them? I know I identify with them on many accounts and I think that’s why I love them. I even openly claim Curious George as my spirit animal. But with my love adequately expressed, they are still crazy. Let me tell you about some crazy monkey encounters I’ve had.
The first crazy monkey encounter I want to tell you didn’t actually happen to me, but to a friend I was with. One of the things I would recommend to anyone in Krabi, Thailand is Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sua). The daunting 1200 steps to the top is well worth it – just take your time – it’s not a race. There are monkeys all over the Tiger Cave Temple area, especially when you get to the actual temple on top the mountain. Like with many temples in Thailand, you are asked to remove your shoes before entering. After climbing stairs all the way to the top, removing shoes doesn’t seem like a bad idea until you remember there are dozens of mischievous monkeys wondering around. I took off my shoes thinking that everyone else has and no monkeys have stolen anyone else’s shoes so maybe it’s just not their thing to do… or the smell detours them.
Not long after entering the temple, a British lady calls out, “A monkey stole someone’s trainer”. The 4 of us who were travelling together all ran over to see if our shoes were still there. The monkey took my friend’s shoe and jumped into the nearby tree. If you have ever been there or climbed stairs for an hour, you would know shoes are essential. As the monkey darted off further into the trees, we were trying to figure out how to get the shoe back. Thankfully, the monkey dropped it and it landed on the walkway. Needless to say, I shoved my shoes into my backpack (risking them stinking up the rest of my things) to prevent monkey thieves from succeeding again.
I wouldn’t be saying much about my monkey encounters if I left out Monkey Forest in Bali. There were quite a few monkey encounters within the 30-60 minutes we were there. The first monkey I came up to in Monkey Forest was probably my favourite monkey ever. I had bought a banana just before entering the forest and this monkey was sitting, chewing on a banana peel. Feeling bad for her, I decided that she deserved an actual banana. This definitely perked her up, running around while shoving it into her mouth. It was so cute. Me, being the fine arts student I am, was trying so hard to capture this on camera but moving monkeys are probably the hardest things I’ve ever tried to photograph. Energized with her fresh banana, she took a liking to my camera. Nothing bad, like trying to steal it the way Thai monkeys like to steal shoes, but just curious about it. Peering right into the lens with such wonder and even climbing onto my one arm to get a better look at it, I was praying one of the photos I was desperately trying to take would focus properly. I was also praying that the monkey would refrain from pooping on my bag, arm, and back that it was so gladly climbing about on. Luckily there is no monkey poop involved in this story, but there was also no luck with the photo. Even though this one is a bit out of focus, it’s the best I have.
My third monkey encounter I would like to tell you also takes place in Monkey Forest. Walking a bit further into the forest after leaving my favourite monkey behind, I found more monkeys. Shocker, I know. When I came across monkeys spread out across stairs, I wanted to take a photo of that – I was a little photo-happy at Monkey Forest if you haven’t gathered that yet. As a bent down to get a better angle, a monkey started walking towards me. After such a pleasant first encounter here, I was totally okay with this… until it started picking up speed.
Coming towards me at a speed that made me a little uncomfortable, this was no longer seemed like a friendly approach. I quickly stood up out of instinct trying to create more space between me and the monkey. It jumped on my bag that was slung across my body, which just freaked me out even more. I’m not really sure what happened next. It was a blur. I was acting partly on instinct and partly on not knowing what to do in this situation. I think I was still just trying to move away from the monkey with my arms above my head and twisting my body in the other direction. And then it struck!
It bit me! I got bit, by a monkey, in the armpit! Monkeys be crazy! At that point, I’m pretty sure I squealed and flung it off me while trying to run away. It started to come back at me but then a guy picked up a leaf and pretended like he was going to throw it at the monkey. After gesturing like that a couple times, the monkey ran off. Apparently, monkeys are scared of thing being thrown at them…? Thankfully, the bite didn’t break skin since I was wearing a t-shirt and have quick reflexes – it was just red for the rest of the day.
I have left out stories from my monkey experience in Malaysia mainly because nothing too significant happened with them. They were typical monkeys running round, taking any type of food that people foolishly brought with them, whether intended for the monkeys or not. I think that’s why the hostel owner warned us about the monkeys on our way out that morning. The monkeys in Cambodia didn’t do anything significant while I was around either. Mostly they were just taking care of tiny baby monkeys, giving us the evil eye if we got too close. But let these tales of monkeys be a warning. Monkeys are adorable and awesome, but also crazy.