After visiting the Bali’s rice terraces we went to Alas Kedaton Temple, a small forested area (approximately 15 acres) where hundreds of monkeys and fruit bats make their home.
A group of woman with matching shirts stood near the entrance, and one woman stepped forward as our (free) guide/monkey handler. I later learned that these women are part of the co-op of stall/shop owners who sell tourist wares in the entrance of the temple grounds. They each take turns being guides, and when they are not guiding they are hawking their wares.
The monkeys are an integral part of life here, and we immediately witnessed some monkey thievery as we walked on the pathway alongside the stalls towards the temple. This particular sneaky monkey jumped down from the stall rooftop and stole a shirt from a vendor’s hanger. He quickly jumped back up to the roof for safety, leaving the vendor exasperated below. The vendor seemed annoyed at herself for not guarding her wares more closely, but she had an easy solution to get the shirt back. She found some snack food and tossed it up to the monkey, who then returned the shirt. Borrow a shirt—get food. Smart monkeys.
Our guide spoke very little English, and she was not in the slightest bit afraid of coming close to the monkeys. She sometimes started guiding the kids a little close for my comfort level! However, the monkeys were quite tame here, but of course we weren’t foolish enough to walk around with food or little objects they might want to take from us.
I love watching the sweet little babies, and the adults picking each other clean.
My babies watching some babies…
This monkey followed us around as we walked through the temple grounds.
I admit, the attraction here wasn’t the temple. It was the monkeys. However, I did manage to get one shot of purely temple grounds…
And then there were bats…
We could hear them in the trees near the backside of the temple.
We usually shy away from tourist things that include animals…but seriously, how many times do you get to touch a bat in your lifetime? We were fascinated by the vendors offering photos with bats.
Instead of opting for them to take print our family photo (and putting it in a gaudy cardstock frame), we negotiated for a much cheaper fee in exchange for being allowed to take our own photo with our camera.
The vendor brought the bat (raised in captivity) to Jared and had it cling to Jared’s side while he held the wings out. Okay—totally touristy—but also cool to be able to feel a real bat and get an idea of its proportions with wings expanded.
It didn’t take long to walk through the grounds, and on the way out our guide walked us to her shop, where she pleadingly asked (told) us to buy something. No joke—she was aggressive. We really had no need or want for anything, but she wouldn’t give up. “If you don’t buy, I lose luck. I need good luck—you buy something.” She then quoted outrageous prices for things like this shirt below. We couldn’t pack any more sarongs and didn’t want knickknacks, but we finally relented and purchased two shirts like this for the price of one.
While I’ve previously had a neat monkey forest experience in Ubud, this was the first time my kids and husband have been this close to them. So, it was well worth the trip to make these memories!