Dean Owen

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

chat Contact the author

thumb_up Relevant message Comment

Macaque Mischief

Macaque MischiefThe Monkey Forest

Naff surfer shorts and flip flops may be the order of the day, but pack away your Rayban’s, lose the fake Panama hat, and stow away your wallet, for you are about to enter the Monkey Forest.


Lose all dangly bits, scarves, and hairbands. Macaque thieves nestled amongst ancient banyan eagerly await.

I trust you took the advice of your tour operator and took a rabies vaccination. This band of misfits has, on the odd occasion, been known to pierce skin with a pair of mighty incisors. Worse still is the possibility of getting the herpes B virus, but without benefits. The risk of catching herpes from monkeys is extremely low, but herpes jumping species have caused over a dozen recorded fatalities in the last few decades. Fortunately there are no known cases of either rabies or herpes as a result of interacting with the monkeys on this magical island of Bali.


By all means, get up close and personal, but do not touch the primate residents. They may well share 93% of our DNA sequence, but they are not your long lost cousins. Yes they can be as cute as your niece Gemima, or as frumpy as uncle Jack, but these guys are hardened criminals, gang members looking for their next dopey victim.

No need to be overly worried, park rangers are on hand with advanced weapon technology; the slingshot.

You can pick up a bunch of bananas or some sweet potatoes at the entrance, or just stick a target on your back with the words “Pillage Me”.

No use hiding the bananas in your baggy shorts, these macaques have acute olfactory receptors enabling them to sniff out potential targets a temple away.

They have one sole purpose: that delicious lump of goodies protruding from your shorts. Bananas, papaya leaves, apples, oranges, they want it all. If they can snatch it, they will. If they can’t, they’ll go for literally anything on your possession. One particularly sneaky female nabbed my lens cap and scurried up a tree. From then on, I became the negotiator, putting on my coy, seductive look whilst waving a banana in the air.

It was a routine they had nailed, a quick exchange of goods at arms length.


For all this talk of the remarkable intelligence of primates, you would have thought they would have figured out that if you were carrying fruit, you were going to give it to them anyway. Perhaps these Balinese long-tailed monkeys revel in thievery and clandestine exchange. Perhaps they consider it as part of a health and wellness regime to stay fit. They hardly have to fight for their food anymore. There is a truckload of bananas with their names on just outside the gate. And yes, the park rangers have given all six hundred or so monkeys here individual names.


Within the forest lie three ancient temples dedicated to the worship of God Shiva, Goddess Gangga, and Lord Brahma Prajapati. Locals still come to these 14th Century Hindu temples to worship, and tourists, yes even the Aussies, are permitted to enter most areas provided they don proper Balinese traditional attire.


It is a pleasant departure from the cliff top infinity pools, the hip and trendy streets of Ubud, luscious green, but iridescent rice paddies, and contemporary and traditional art and jewelry galleries. A couple of hours monkey watching and one begins to see the individual personality traits. The overly protective and adoring mother, the overlord alpha males, mischievous teens, and tired elders.


If ever you find yourself in Ubud, take the short walk from the town centre down Jalan Wenara Wana (Monkey Forest Lane) and enter the Kingdom of Thieves. Entry is a relative bargain at IDR. 50,000 (about $3.75) for adults and IDR 40,000 for children, but it could end up costing you far more.


thumb_up Relevant message Comment

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #13

Great photos Dean!! They would be attracted to my hair when the grays decide to show then LOL

Dean Owen

4 years ago #12

Yep, they seem to be all over Asia. I had them in the forests near my house in Singapore, see them a lot in China and Japan. No need for zoos I guess. Yep, and pretty much all photos used in my articles are mine. I suspect the primates are attracted to grey, black, and silver as these were the items they seem to like snatching!

Dean Owen

4 years ago #11

Not quite a PCN but a PNP (Pommy Nip Polack) which doesn't show from my name, but Owen used to be Cohen before my grandparents escaped Poland for England. The last pic was at Uluwatu.

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #10

I will look for you and send a friend request Paul Walters!

Paul Walters

4 years ago #9

Lisa \ud83d\udc1d Gallagher who kindly puts them up on cafe beBEE

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #8

Very interesting Dean Owen, let me know if you use Facebook! Ok, if one of those Monkeys came close to me, people would probably see me running and of course I would be the laughing joke. I love the photo near the water, did you take that? I hear they are attracted to pink shorts! ;-)

Paul Walters

4 years ago #7

Dean Owen A Pommy, Chinese ,Nipon... or PCN which makes for a great acronym ...another gem from the Bodie. I tend to avoid the monkeys in Ubud but find the ones in Ullawatu a lot for formidable . I have seen many a pair of designer sunglasses snatched from the faces of tourists be tossed off the cliffs when the primate became bored with their booty !!! Nice piece as always and love your pics!

Dean Owen

4 years ago #6

Yep, I drove to Gib a long time ago to see a friend. Funny driving to Gib from Spain as you have to switch road sides. Remember the monkeys shaking the lamp posts.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #5

I came across quite a few of them when I was in Gibraltar :-) but the forest is smaller yet they share the same thirst for mischief :-)

Brook Massey

4 years ago #4

Bargaining with the monkey definitely made me smile. It sounds like a wonderful place.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #3

No real surprises there, Dean-san ..... but "She'll be right, mate!" 👍

Dean Owen

4 years ago #2

The Aussies make great tourists in my opinion. I was surprised to see them in the top ten worst behaved list!

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #1

Happy days, Dean-san. Monkey see, monkey do. Glad to know they still let "even Aussies" into this thieves paradise. 🤣 Mind you there are some "dangly bits" best covered up rather than lost. Not quite ready to sing soprano in the choir as yet. 😝 Masterfully written post and not bad for a Pommy Chinese Nippon. 😂

More articles from Dean Owen

View blog
4 years ago · 2 min. reading time

Killing Abel – A Simple Case of Fratricide

I don’t have much time. · I will not hide. · Thi ...

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time

A Speck of Red

The cool and clinical nature of the room offered n ...

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time

Peculiar Customs of Weird and Wonderful Japan

Yes it is March 14th, which means that chocolate s ...