|Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary - Ubud, Indonesia|
It's been a picturesque couple of days in Ubud gazing out our bedroom window at the rice fields and soaking up the ambiance of village life in Pejeng, just outside Ubud. However, there's one minor downside to our intimate encounter with nature.
Cockfighting is a major pastime in Bali, and most roosters I met don't seem to enjoy sleeping in, so we've had a natural alarm clock around 4:30 each morning. Roosters are like dogs in the sense that I have no idea how they exercise their vocal cords for hours at a time without tiring. Still, I'll take it over the sound of traffic and discos.
But, I'd rather not repeat our encounter with a certain troublesome troop in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
The jungle compound contains three sacred temples overrun by approximately 600, aggressive, Balinese macaques.
We heeded all the warnings — don't touch the monkeys; don't feed the monkeys; guard possessions such as cameras, sunglasses, and loose-fitting jewelry; and don't carry any food in bags because the monkeys will find it.
And so we wandered into the scenic jungle to check out our furry friends, all the time watching our backs. Alexandra even covered up her watch, never thinking that a small bottle of water tucked inside her purse would become the monkey equivalent of catnip.
The thing about monkeys or any other wild animals is that they're so darn cute, until they aren't any more.
Half-way through our walk, I heard Alexandra exclaim something in an excited, incomprehensible manner and turned to see a pesky primate clinging to the bottle that was protruding slightly from her purse.
At this point in the story, I'd like to say that I revealed my Superman cape and saved the day, but I was as stunned as she was by what was happening and how our attacker appeared so suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere.
Alexandra kept her composure, as she attempted to swing the monkey off. Later, she realized monkeys fly effortlessly through trees clinging to branches, so swinging her purse probably wasn't the best solution, although I likely would have done the same thing.
Once the monkey captured its liquid prey, it left Alexandra in peace and set its sights on breaking open the bottle.
Imagine this beast strapped to your leg. All in all, we got off pretty lucky. Afterward, Alexandra decided she's done with monkeys — forever.
Back in town, we had a much more pleasant animal encounter, sampling the local Balinese delicacy of suckling pig.
I told them to walk right in because it's free. They both stopped in their tracks. "Wow!" the man replied, "Finally, something I don't have to pay for in Bali."
Thanks, royal family, and thanks to all of you for your well wishes during our trip.
Our final stop — the underworld.