Among the many things I am passionate about in this world, animals definitely rate near the top of the list. Travellers of South East Asia cannot help but run into animals in every country in the region. Water buffalo, stray dogs and cats, dolphins, horses and monkeys are fairly widespread and can often be found in the streets enjoying the sites with the tourists.
One of the largest collections you can find in a free zone is in Ubud. This fantastical area in Bali houses the Sacred Monkey Forest which is not named for its statues alone. Within the dense vegetation, the Indiana Jones-esque walkways and the central temple live the friendliest monkeys I have yet to meet on my travels; the crab-eating macaques.
Known to the Indonesians simply as the Balinese long-tailed monkey, these creatures are in abundance in the forest with the last head count being around 605. The ages range from adults to infants and all are extremely interested in the ten-thousand tourists who visit every month.
In true monkey style, they can and will steal anything you have on your person so it is super important to keep everything in a zipped bag. Interestingly, if the monkeys see you playing with the zipper on your bag, they will go right ahead and try to take the bag too so I would advise discretion at all times.
Entering the forest is fairly cheap, costing only a few dollars, and there are stalls all over the walkways selling bananas. Spending $3 to get into the park seemed like nothing, until I realised I had spent over $30 on bananas to feed the little buggers.
Friendlier creatures I have yet to meet, even the ones who would steal a whole bunch of bananas just for themselves. Selfish, but adorable. I have to admit the sound of a monkey chewing a banana melted me and I truly fell in love with them. I have no fear in these situations and at one point had four of them enjoying my offerings and chilling out on my head and shoulders.
I cannot recommend this site highly enough, so if in Ubud, go! Just be respectful, be careful and put your trash in the bins provided!