Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Do the monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest (Ubud, Bali) bite?

After my first exhibition and book launch, I recovered by going to Bali with one of my dearest friends, Lou Pardi and my boyfriend, Tim. We started off the trip by picking up Lou from Ubud - where two of my favourite foods are to be found. So first we indulged on the babi guling (suckling pig) at Ibu Oka 3

Babi Guling spesial at Ibu Oka 3
Then we headed over to Bebek Bengil ("dirty duck") to feast on our winged friends

Nasi Campur at Bebek Bengil
Feeling ridiculously full, Lou and Tim insisted that we go for a walk to settle our stomachs. I really didn't want to go to the local tourist attraction - The Sacred Monkey Forest - actually none of us did but it was the only place nearby that promised an uninterrupted walk. So off we went.

Mandatory awkward tourist photo in the Sacred Monkey Forest 

Action shot
At first I was content making fun of the whole thing. I watched other tourists with disdain as they bought bananas, coaxing the monkeys to climb them so that they could take photos. Some of these same tourists screamed repeatedly once the monkeys started climbing onto them...as they had just encouraged. I was feeling like a cranky petulant teenager when I spied some the baby monkeys being nursed by their mothers and switched into appreciative photo-taking mode:
awww baby monkey suckling
Nawww baby monkey!

Nawww lazy big monkey!
Exploring the sites, my back was getting attacked by mosquitos and so we decided to leave. That was until I spied a sign for "Public Art Gallery" and promptly followed the sign down the stairs to this pretty spot:

So pretty, I started taking photos of a particularly cute little monkey:


I took quite a few photos of this monkey until I thought I should focus the lens on some of the others...

But "particularly cute" monkey had other ideas...

"Particularly cute" aka "Asshole Monkey"
The incident
For me it started when Tim called out to warn me to watch my feet, I looked down to see "particularly cute" monkey. I was wearing a maxi dress so I took a step away just in case the dress got in the way. But "particularly cute" monkey reached out and grabbed the hem of my dress, shoving it down his gob rapidly. Gah! Naturally I started pulling my dress away, saying "no, monkey, this is my dress." Asshole Monkey pulled the dress back, harder. There we were playing tug of war - Asshole Monkey and me in a strapless dress with no bra underneath (it's hot and humid!). Lou tried to step in by saying "go away, monkey!" Asshole Monkey bared his teeth and started making hissing noises. Then all of his monkey friends around us got up, bared their teeth and made hissing noises. Asshole Monkey bit me on the calf. Ouch!

I realise that this is the point that most people would normally run. However I didn't want to leave Lou behind in a group of angry monkeys. So I stood my ground, pulling my dress back and started negotiating. "Hey, what's your problem? This is MY dress. I'm not doing anything wrong." Even after Asshole Monkey had bitten me on both thighs, and calves and swung up to look at me in the face, I was adamant, "What's your problem? I haven't done anything wrong!" His friend swung on from behind and bit me on the back of my neck and the other (or the same one?) bit me on the bum. I didn't scream- there were bigger monkeys around us with much bigger teeth. Tim was running around above looking for fruit scraps which he threw down, momentarily distracting Asshole Monkey and friends until they could quickly see that they were just fruit peels. Lou, eventually managed to run past me (I didn't see her go past in all of the commotion) to get help. By the time Tim dragged me up the stairs, Lou had run back with help. All of the monkeys stayed down the stairs. I had been bitten 7 times.
On the way to the hospital the next day, pointing out one of the bites. I think I'm also trying to give a "thumbs down" sign...

If you do get bitten, here's what to do:
  1. Go to the First Aid room (at the Sacred Monkey Forest) and get the wounds cleaned up.
  2. Go to BIMC hospital for tetanus and rabies vaccinations - ideally on the same day. While rabies has not yet been found in the Balinese monkeys, I wasn't going to give things a chance. If you have had particularly nasty bites (i.e. deep bites into flesh), you'll need the rabies immunoglobulin which we were told is not available on the island of Bali due to transportation issues.
  3. Upon return home, visit the Travel Doctor to complete the course of rabies vaccinations. Should probably do this before the trip!

Travel Insurance: 
My travel insurance covered costs incurred in Bali only (around $130AUD) - not costs once we reached home. I'll need to see if my Private Health Insurance covers the costs of seeing the Travel Doctor (around $300AUD - consultation and 3 visits for vaccinations)

Super clean - BIMC hospital in Bali - I went to the BIMC in Nusa Dua. There is also one in Kuta.

Happy snap with my treating doctor and nurse at BIMC, Nusa Dua.

The moral of this random shit is don't go to the Monkey Forest unless you're aware that you might get bitten. And visit the Travel Doctor before you go somewhere because you never know...

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