Warning - crazy monkey pictures ahead.
All in all, we weren't planning on being too enthralled by Ubud's famous Sacred Monkey Forest. We speed past it everyday on our motorbike as we careen our way up Monkey Forest Road and into central Ubud, and were imagining something fun, but still a classic tourist trap - monkeys in cages, $2 bananas and Japanese tour buses galore. It was on our list of things to do, but definitely not a major priority.
However, when Jesse's cousin, Justin, who had been spending a few weeks surfing on the coast, came up to visit for the day, we decided it was about time to pay a visit to Ubud's famous macaques and their temple home.
The sanctuary itself is beautiful - lush, green and filled with over 115 different types of trees and several ancient Hindu temples. It also houses around 340 monkeys on 27 acres, meaning you are virtually constantly surrounded by the rambunctious little creatures.
Many of the female monkeys had just had babies, meaning tons of tiny (very alien-looking) monkeys running around, and many very protective mothers. Step too close to a baby and the mothers were very quick to jump in front of you, hiss and bare their fangs. While Justin (see photos below) was clearly a very good friend of the monkeys, I opted to keep my distance, speed walking down paths and only creeping close to monkeys that appeared either extremely old or mostly immobile. Safety first.
Bali is currently experiencing a very well-documented rabies outbreak, but judging by the number of people wandering the sanctuary and getting up close and personal with its monkey population, tourism hasn't been too much affected. Interested in letting a wild baby monkey climb up your leg and nuzzle your neck? Rabies be damned, nobody's going to stop you here.
We did see one young German man get pounced on and bitten on the back (sitting down next to a baby = not a good idea) but to be fair the monkeys in general seemed reasonably friendly and obviously extremely used to people. For all I know, he was probably hiding bananas in his backpack - definitely not recommended.
All in all, a unique experience - and one there is probably zero chance of having in the US. Also very good practice for my speed walking skills.