A complex of mischief

A complex of mischief

They are everywhere; just don’t stare at them,” warned our guide. Having earned the wrath of one, years back, I chose not to take any chances. I walked past them with indifference. And it worked.

The monkeys went about their business of screeching, running, jumping, fighting and, of course, grooming themselves and their loved ones, with no fear of or fondness for the two-legged in their proximity.

The Ubud Monkey Forest or Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, as they say in Balinese, is a nature reserve. 

Though there was nothing mammoth or architecturally significant here, the pristine environs, with the apes brushing past you at lightening speed, reminded us of how we are part of the picture frame, if we know our boundaries.

It was fun to watch them in freedom, which welcomed us into their territory. There were signages on how to behave in their presence. Following them would make the visit more enjoyable. Another feature was the cleanliness maintained there.

A few more steps took us to an eerie-looking, gigantic banyan tree with prop roots, which provided the tourists the much-needed backdrop for their Instagram updates.

Over the years, the forest has become a must-visit in Bali. For the locals, it’s not only a source of revenue but also an extension of their spiritual life.

Visitors are not allowed to feed the monkeys. Probably why we didn’t come across a primate that was either too aggressive or annoyingly curious. But...

A scream caught our attention. A monkey had taken liberty to rest on a lady’s shoulder for a while. However, in no time we overheard her coaxing her daughters to offer their shoulders, too.

On our way back, what we saw surprised us even more. A huge monkey was enjoying a banana sitting on a visitor’s shoulder. It appeared as if this was how the monkey was expected to behave. As, every time it sat on a tourist’s shoulder, it was rewarded with a banana. I couldn’t ask for a replay, but the sight was indeed fodder for amusement.  These long-tailed apes are fed sweet potatoes by the park staff. For the bravehearts there are bananas on sale, which the monkeys eagerly come and collect from your hands. But here, being on your guard is a must.

Marvel at the apes’ intelligence, or blame humans for this, but watching them is an experience to cherish.

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