If “The Jungle Book’ was one of your favourite childhood films, then perhaps a visit to the monkey temple in Bali will be right up your street.
The moss covered stone temple complex houses around 700 semi-wild macaque monkeys and 115 different species of trees. Some of the trees are considered sacred with the wood being used exclusively for the building of shrines and the leaves being used in religious ceremonies, particularly cremations.
The temple is located in the cultural region of Ubud in Bali in the village of Padangtegal, it is owned by the village and considered an important spiritual site though in recent years has become a popular tourist destination.
It was constructed around the 14th century and abides by the three Hindu principles for wellbeing (harmony between humans, harmony between humans and nature, harmony between humans and god).
You can watch monkeys run and frolic or eye you tentatively as they pass by with babies clinging to their underbelly.
There is an option to buy bananas to feed them with or encourage them to crawl up your body as you hold them above your head.
Personally, I eschewed this, given my previous encounters with monkeys.
Bear in mind that they are semi-wild creatures, not tamed, and have a mind and impulse of their own.
It is not uncommon for people to be bitten or scratched by the monkeys and I think it is important to point out that rabies is present throughout Indonesia.
I enjoyed the wild overgrown feel of the temple and wandering around; I felt more interested in the aesthetic and the spiritual background of the temple than the monkeys.
They showed no fear in leaping on people’s backs, grabbing items from pockets and unzipping bags.
I saw a few tourists running away screaming or nearly in tears as monkeys climbed on them and pulled their hair, threatened to bite them and stole their belongings.
I did feel a little sorry for old Nelson though…
The blind monkey that they’ve had to put in a cage in case he managed to walk off a cliff, fall into the river or run head first into a tree.
Sometimes the other monkeys come and run around near the cage and keep him company for a little while.
I was hounded by totes outside and an old toothless lady hobbled after me, screeching that I should promise to buy something from her.
I can’t say it was the most enthralling experience of my life but enjoyable all the same.
It is probably better to go without high expectations. I feel that a lot of articles I read portrayed it in a very different light to the reality of it. Whilst the backdrop of the temples was beautiful, wild animals are unpredictable and too many tourists few them as a commodity for selfies which often ends badly.