Portrait of a Monkey

Most visitors like to Bali are intrigued by the wild monkeys that inhabit temples and parks. I prefer to keep my distance. Notorious thieves of reading glasses, hats, bags and water bottles, monkeys can become aggressive if provoked. Ubud’s monkeys of Monkey Forest and the entrance to the park are known to scratch people and are easily provoked. The monkeys of Pura Pulaki temple by the sea at Pemuteran in the north are also known to be aggressive. Advice regarding rabies and hepatitis is often ignored by tourists keen to have physical contact with monkeys.

Hold that pose.

Despite my ambivalent feelings about monkeys, I found myself at peace with a few fine creatures at the top of Padang-Padang beach, on the Bukit Peninsula. Deterred by the crowds descending through the cave to enter that tiny beach ( made famous unfortunately by the film Eat Pray Love), I chose to hang out with some gentle characters around the temple. I am sure they were posing for me as I sat about quietly with my camera. I had no food, no bag, no voice and little movement.

This monkey enjoyed posing for me.

Padang-Padang Beach is best visited in the low season, that is, any time outside the months of July and August. Northern Bali, around Pemuteran, is still relatively quiet in these months, a five-hour drive from the teeming and touristed South.

Cute but cheeky

14 thoughts on “Portrait of a Monkey”

  1. Yes, Francesca, experience does teach one not to be taken in by those “innocent” eyes. My brush with the temple monkeys had one jumping on my back and fleeing to the highest tree with my glasses. The guide made some “monkey” noises along with the promise of some peanuts and coaxed the little thief down for his swap of glasses for nuts. For his troubles the guide then demanded money – so who was bribing who?? On my return home I got contact lenses.

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  2. Oh dear – and my favourite endearment has always been ‘Hello, monkeyface’ . . . . every baby I have ever held has heard that one 🙂 ! Understand the health warning and am sorry these ones are the aggressive kind but the photos are simply perfect! Hope you are having the happiest of times . . . .

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    1. Some are as sweet as those cute monkey faced babies. I am travelling with two monkey faced kids at present- it has been such a pleasure. we are having a lovely time: it was a significant birthday for Mr T here in Bali. Our solo travels begin next Wednesday.

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  3. I can understand the attraction of wanting to interact with the monkeys – they look so much like little people, but like people, not all can be trusted!

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  4. I visited the Ubud temple monkeys and they were decidedly uninterested in my presence, so I sat quietly in the deserted graveyard and snapped photos for about half an hour. .. Having said that I saw some tourists doing things that would for sure deserve some monkey business – getting between mothers and babies, tempting them over with food, trying to touch them… Some people just have no cop on!

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    1. That is so true Quinn. Many of those who get harassed seem to ask for it by taunting the monkeys with food or getting in the way of family groups. When you are quiet and alone, you see not only quiet monkeys, but strangely behaved tourists.

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  5. I’ve never encountered a monkey up close & personal, but for some reason they scare me, and normally I’m a real animal lover.

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