Monday, April 20, 2015

Ubud Monkey Forest

This morning we wanted to go check out the Monkey Forest.  We have heard from several people that the monkeys here are "aggressive" and the experience isn't that great so we set out with a bit of hesitation.  We went early, first thing in the morning, and I think that ended up being key for a nice experience!
When we pulled up on our scooters we saw monkeys relaxing about so we started to take a few pictures not knowing if this was "it" for the experience or if there was more to come.
There are a couple of different entrances but I think we went into the main one.  You buy a ticket to enter the forest (About $2 US) and then start walking through the forest.  I have to say it is BEAUTIFUL and COOL!!!  There was LOTS of shade!  A welcomed way to stay cool because Bali is anything but cool right now!  I just remembered being in awe of all of the green that surrounded us!
As you first enter you see a monkey here and a monkey there.  You also will see a stand of someone selling bananas.  Once you open that door and buy bananas the monkeys will be all over you.  Here, there wasn't a monkey handler so I suggest, if you plan to feed bananas to the monkeys, that you wait for a main area where there is someone that is trained to help with the monkeys unless you want to brave the alpha monkeys on your own!
We weren't ready to jump into that whole experience yet so we skipped the bananas and continued to walk around and it was so peaceful!  The monkeys kept their distance.  Another key is to have no food on you and nothing in your hand that resembles what might be food!
If you have nothing of interest, the monkeys which are crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis) or the locals call them Balinese long-tailed monkey, will go about their morning eating the sweet potato that they are fed by the park staff!
The Ubud Monkey Forest describes its mission as conservation of the area within its boundaries according to the Hindu principle of Tri Hata Karana ("Three ways to reach spiritual and physical well-being"), which seeks to make people live harmoniously during their lives.
The "three ways" to this goal under the Tri Hata Karana doctrine are harmonious relationships between humans and humans, between humans and the natural environment, and between humans and The Supreme God. Accordingly, the Monkey Forest has a philosophical goal of creating peace and harmony for visitors from all over the world. It also seeks to conserve rare plants and animals for use in Hindu rituals and to provide a natural laboratory for educational institutions, with a particular emphasis on research into the social interaction of the park's monkeys with one another and their interaction with the park's natural environment. (wikipedia)
Nature, monkeys, and my family.... I was one happy girl!!!!
The Monkey Forest has 3 temples inside of it that were constructed back in 1350.  The temples are not open to visitors, only those that are wearing proper Balinese praying attire and are willing to pray.

We did, however, get to peak inside one of the temples.
We were there close to prayer time so we got to see people from the local community dressed for temple and carrying their offerings head to the temple!
The other fun part was here.  Doesn't look like much but let me tell you.  As we came around the corner we heard and splash and couldn't figure out where the noise was coming from...
then we came across this group of young monkeys playing around.  They would chase each other up the tree and the jump off the branches, sailing through the air, and land in the water with a big splash!  It was SO much fun to watch.  We probably stayed here for 10-15 minutes!  A highlight of the morning!

Once we decided that we had seen enough and had enjoyed a relaxing visit, we told the kids we could buy bananas if they wanted to!  Of course, they all say YES!!! But who ends up being the one to feed the monkeys?!?!
So we purchased some bananas at a main area where there were a couple of monkey handlers around to help if we needed.  See, once the monkeys see you leave the banana stand an alpha male will come over to grab your bananas!
The key is to hold just one banana at a time!
They also tell you to hold the banana up in the air so the monkey climbs to get it.  Otherwise they just grab them out of your hand without you evening knowing!  They are SO quick!
Really, once you have a banana it all happens SO quick!  And it is mainly the large males that come get the food.  The little guys are too scared to challenge the alphas!
Ethan was being SO brave and wanted to try to feed the monkeys!  A large male was eyeing him but I knew Ethan wouldn't be keen on that.  This is when the handlers came in handy.  I asked a handler to help me get a little monkey to come to Ethan.  To do this, the handler had to scare off the big monkey (which he did by just raising his hand to the monkey) and I took Ethan to where this little monkey was hanging out!
I think both Ethan and the monkey were a bit nervous!

The monkey made a quick jump and ended up leaving without the banana!!!  So funny!  Ethan was a bit surprised but he gave it another go!  The next time with success!
This is what happens when monkeys start figuring out you have bananas!!!  They team up!  They are NOT afraid!

After much encouraging, Owen also decided to try to feed a monkey.  He went for the hand off approach!  Addyson, she just sat back and watched the whole thing!  She was also my picture taker for when I was feeding the monkeys so many of these pictures were taken by her!
I have to say that I am SO glad we didn't listen to some of the advice to stay away from the Monkey Forest, it was a really fun morning!  Again, I think going early is key and also not having any food on you or anything that resembles food!  Here is a funny story- as we were leaving I realized we had some dirt on us from monkey paws so I went to get some wipes out of my bag.... I should have WAITED until we had left the forest!   NO, I did it on the way out!  A monkey hear me wrestling with a wrapper and came right over to me to get my package!  I freaked out and threw the package at Brad (hitting him in the back of the head with it), what I thought he would do with it I have NO idea, the package bounced off Brad, landed on the ground, and before we knew it the monkey had it and was up a tree!!!  Ugh!  Ethan is crying because our wipes are gone and I have to flag down a handler to let them know a monkey is about to eat a package of wetwipes!  Way to go, Ambre!!!! 
SO, note to self, don't take out any packages of any kind until you have LEFT the Monkey Forest!
Such a fun morning at the Ubud Monkey Forest!  If you are ever in the area, this is a MUST DO!

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