During our first day in Ubud we found ourselves wandering around the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. The sanctuary is home to over six hundred Macaques and houses Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, or Padangtegal Great Temple of Death. – Intense right!?
Upon entry you will be greeted by some very friendly locals selling bananas that you can feed to the Macaques. You will also be greeted by some very eager, and overly “friendly” monkeys that are keenly aware of that fact that you most likely just bought some bananas for them to eat. So be prepared for them to search your bags, your pockets, or anything they can possibly get into.
If you do decide to feed the Macaques, please don’t be an idiot! Listen to the locals and just calmly hand the monkeys one banana at a time. Dont be surprised if they follow you, or even climb on you to try to get all your bananas! For the most part the monkeys are very friendly and used to humans; however, that does not mean that they are domesticated or give you license to torment them by dangling bananas in front of them. We happened to be behind one such group of tourists who thought it was funny to tease the monkeys. The local women tried to tell them to stop and just hand over a banana calmly, but they didn’t listen. Instead one man (or should I say boy) kept teasing the monkey until finally the monkey got fed up, climbed on top of the man in an effort to get the food, the man freaked out, which in turn freaked out the monkey. This my friends, is how people get bit then often have the audacity to blame the animal.
After that rather annoying display of human stupidity we decided to break off of the main path, and I am so glad we did! We followed a small trail that led away from the influx of tourists and lead to a path littered with female Macaques and their babies! How awesome! The monkeys pretty much left us alone (since we didn’t buy any food and closed up all our belongings), except for one little guy who thought V’s cell phone was something to eat and attempted to delve into his pant pocket. We continued to explore the grounds and found our way to the sacred temple and eventually back out.
Couple of pointers here:
- after paying your entrance fee (all fees go towards preserving the forest), put away all your belongings prior to entering the sanctuary/forest as the Macaques are extremely mischievous and sneaky. They are known to take sunglasses, cameras, hats, basically anything that is easily removable.
- most visitors (aka tourists) give out their bananas to the monkeys when they first enter the sanctuary. Instead, put your bananas away and wait until you go deeper into the forest! The monkeys here won’t be so excited, and you’ll get some nice unobstructed photos.
- take a side trail to get away from the crowds of tourists! You’ll be really glad you did!
- pay the “suggested donation” to enter Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, you don’t have to give much and the photos are worth it.