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When we were in Bali, I went to a monkey forest for the second time and was expecting it to be the highlight of our time there. We stopped at a small stand and bought a few bags of peanuts to feed the monkeys before proceeding toward the entrance. We passed a frightening, large statue of an outraged man covered in fierce monkeys, trying to rip them off his body. Was this foreshadowing things to come? Thankfully, even though some monkeys jumped on our shoulders, most didn’t try to harm us.
Although I must say that if they were any bigger, they could have been dangerous! Size determines everything in this monkey kingdom, but since we were five times bigger than they were, most of the monkeys did give us an element of respect.
An old Balinese temple was at the heart of the monkey forest, but unfortunately we were not allowed to go in. The temple courtyard area was open though, and that is where many monkeys hung out.
As I mentioned previously, we bought some peanuts to feed the monkeys. I wanted to save some of the peanuts, so after throwing a few at the older female monkey nearest to me, I waited for some newcomers to walk along. Though the female monkey wasn’t content with just a few peanuts, I didn’t give her any more. Finally the enraged primate lost her temper and bit me on the arm. I shook my arm, and she let go and scrambled into the corner of the temple ruins to glare at me. From then on, we were all much more cautious.
We were directed down a path, which we followed for some time. Walking down the path with monkeys on every side was pretty cool. They didn’t seem to do much besides chase each other, fight, beg for peanuts, and sleep.
There was one little monkey which had wandered away from its mother. I gave a peanut to the little monkey, and then a much bigger monkey jumped on the little thing and started tearing its back. The little monkey wailed, dropping the precious peanut to the ground. The big monkey then grabbed the peanut and ran away, leaving the screeching wounded one on the ground—an average event in the life of a monkey, I suppose.
I really disliked the monkeys jumping on me since they felt very forceful on my shoulder. Like cats, their pupils enlarge before they pounce onto your shoulder, and it’s unnerving to watch it happen as they stare at you. Also, the strength in their bony fingers is quite remarkable when they latch onto your neck!
Near the halfway point in our walk, we came across the grandpa monkey. He was really fat and didn’t move much. He just sat and held out his hand for peanuts. I was quite amused when he scratched himself and made his rolls of flab start jiggling.
When we got rid of all our peanuts, we headed back to our taxi. There were still a few places we wanted to go before it got dark.
It was a lot of fun being at the monkey forest, but there was one negative to visiting. That evening my mom did some research on the local monkeys, and apparently 90% of the monkeys from that forest had a terrible disease that has the potential to destroy the human nervous system. The result could easily be fatal or cause paralysis. This disease could be transferred to humans through monkey saliva in a scratch, through a monkey bite, or through a scratch by a monkey’s dirty fingernail. It was also possible that some of the monkeys might have had rabies or might have given us tetanus.
So we had to stay up till 3 a.m. doing paper work at a clinic, and we had to get a bunch of rabies shots and a tetanus shot. It wasn’t what any of us wanted, but it was another memorable situation where we had to put our trust in God and know He had our best in mind.
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