Is Bali Heaven on Earth?
Well, plenty of people certainly say so, understandably smitten by the island’s fine beaches and elaborate culture and traditions.
But Bali is also Heaven on Earth for monkeys - at least for those fortunate enough to be living at the Monkey Forest in Ubud, the “village” made internationally famous by Julia Roberts for her role as a woman trying to “find herself” in the ultra-hammy film adaptation of the best selling book “Eat Love Pray”.
Is there a heaven above us too? His guess is as good as ours.
The Monkey Forest is located at one end of Ubud and is pretty much in walking distance from most places unless you are particularly indolent.
Tickets can be bought at the small locket outside and if you want to buy bananas to feed the monkeys – actually they are long-tailed macaques – you can do so at the entrance.
But be warned, these monkeys are not in the least afraid of humans and, if they spot you carrying any sort of food, will rush you, either alone or with their mates, climbing all over you, until they get what they want (which you have probably already dropped anyway).
The macaques just pass their days by eating copious amounts of food brought in by tourists, relaxing, grooming and - judging by the large number of baby monkeys – bonking each other senseless.
Another thing they like to do is temple licking.
This bizarre behavior does not, according to researchers, suggest an excessively obsequious appreciation of the monkey God above, but actually reflects the fact that the walls of the temples contain calcium and other nutrients that are essential to the good health of the long-tailed macaques.
Finally, a word of warning.
Cover up by wearing a jacket and jeans - and don’t tempt fate by getting too close - as not only do most macaques carry the herpes B virus but they could also theoretically carry the rabies virus which is already widespread amongst the dog population in Bali, even if it hasn’t spread to moneys (yet).
Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana
(Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary)
Address : Jalan Monkey Forest, Padangtegal, Ubud
Bali, Indonesia (80571)
Phone : +62 361 971304, 972774
Opening hours: everyday from 8 am - 6 pm