Bali, Indonesia–this destination has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time now but it was only until last month that I got to visit it with my blogger besties. Although we booked our tickets as early as April, we were all so busy no one bothered to make an itinerary. As you can probably tell, we’re a little more relaxed than your average traveler and we procrastinate like no other. Thank God Access Travel PH is here to save the day. They helped us book a luxury villa that also provides plenty of tours around Bali’s most famous attractions. One of which is the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal in Ubud.
The Monkey Forest represents a sacred Balinese Hindu site that is both a nature reserve and a temple complex. Currently, it’s estimated to have 605 Balinese long-tailed macaques monkeys living here. Clearly, there is no shortage of monkeys in this forest. Even before we reached the main entrance, we were already spotting monkeys left and right. Although a lot of them are cute to look at, I must warn you that if you do decide to visit the Monkey Forest, you must be alert at all times. These monkeys are smart and are experts at grabbing anything they set their eyes on. (We even witnessed one stealing a little girl’s bag thinking there’s food inside.) So leave your hats inside the car, don’t bring food with you, and most importantly, make sure your belongings can’t be grabbed easily. I know I sound like I’m prepping you for battle but our Monkey Forest experience was so eventful I can’t help but share these tips with you.
Our tour started out like any other, with the 3 of us ooh-ing and ahh-ing and ogling at the monkeys’s cuteness from a safe distance. A lot of other tourists were braver than us and bought bananas sold by the vendors inside to feed to the monkeys. These monkeys would climb over their shoulders, hug their legs and pull their hands to get the food. Although it was definitely an experience for them, the 3 of us were content just watching all these unfold. (We’re scaredy cats, I know.) We eventually gathered the courage to feed the monkeys when we saw a guide giving away some corn for a little monkey. Ideally, the little monkey would ride your shoulders and eat from your hand. When it was my turn, the monkey that went near me was a bit bigger and lazier so it just grabbed my hand. LOL! I was still terrified out of my brains though. The two photos of me with the monkey eating from my hand are so meme-worthy I just couldn’t help but include them here. A word of advice to those of you who want to feed the monkeys as well, please make sure you’re with a guide. There have been cases of monkey bites here so better be safe than sorry. I actually had a really close encounter with one and I personally saw how sharp its teeth were. Kryz managed to take a photo of the moment that led up to what we now call, the climax of our Monkey Forest trip. You see, Laureen and I sat a few feet away from a monkey for a hilarious photo op and in just a few seconds, it charged at us, grabbed on to my camera strap and bag, and showed us its angry face and sharp fangs. We jumped up and screamed like there’s no tomorrow! I’m sure we looked hella funny but boy did we get the fright of our lives! Looking at the brighter side, at least we got the money shot. (LOL! You can’t take the blogger out of me.)
After all that happened, I still have no regrets visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. I believe it’s something a first-time traveler to Bali must experience at least once. It may not present the most ideal circumstances but at least it’s never boring. As long as you take precaution (and don’t sit with a monkey possessed by Regina George), then you’ll be fine.