Monkey Business in Bali
In addition to countless spas, restaurants and clothing shops lining the streets of Ubud, Bali, there is a remarkable stop right on the edge of town. If you love furry little creatures, you will love Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest.
Wenara Wana or what is more commonly known as the Padangtegal Monkey Forest is a must do for anyone visiting Ubud. The “forest” is actually a walled area with two entrances where visitors pay the 15,000 Rupiah ($1.65 US) fee for admission. There are no gates so the monkeys roam freely, but they know that their main source of food comes from the tourists who are inside, so they mostly remain behind the walls.
This ancient site has concrete sidewalks and stone retaining walls that curve around through the forest. A long flight of stairs takes you down to the main temple and the river that flows through the forest. The temple is home to a relic, in the form of a Lingga Yoni (a phallus and womb symbol used in the worship of Shiva) that has been located in the inner sanctum of the temple for many centuries and is revered as a sacred artifact.
The monkeys are long-tailed macaques and as you can imagine, they are very used to interacting with tourists. What that really means is that they are used to being fed the bananas that tourists purchase from the local vendors at the park’s entrance. They are, in fact, wild animals that may have who knows what diseases, but the foolish tourists (mostly Americans) seem oblivious to that while they allow the monkeys to scratch their way up their bodies and arms to the prize banana that dangles in the fool’s hand.
In my brief observation of the dozens of monkeys I encountered, it appeared as though they each had unique personalities, somewhat like people do. This one was grooming his mate much like humans do.
Mothers kept watch over their offspring much like our mothers used to before the days of parental abuse. When the baby starts to run off, mother grabs its tail and rains them back in. It was almost humorous watching parents keep their kin in check by using physical force and animal instinct. And the children behaved!
Banyan trees are prevalent in the Monkey Forest. Some of them are so large that you can physically walk through them like this one near the temple.
Everyone who visits Ubud in Bali should take an hour or two to visit the Monkey Forest. The up close experience with monkeys is something you will remember for the rest of your life.