August 28th is a holiday in Bali ---their traditional calendar consists of 210 days –and the 28th is their equivalent of Thanksgiving.
Businesses will be closed….everyone heads “Home” to where their birthplace is, or where their family is –and a big traditional Balinese meal of roast pig and other delights are served.
All through the week we have watched preparations gearing up ---much like our own tradition of setting up a Christmas tree or carving pumpkins for Halloween ---ornaments are made of bamboo and palm and every day there are more and more decorations present around the homes and up and down the streets.
School let out early today.
Family shrines are draped with new cloth –yellow and white. People are in a hurry now to get ready, the 28th is only hours away.
Another thing we noticed is that many businesses are closing early today ---including our last stop, the Monkey Forest. Our bus pulled up to an empty parking lot. Tourists had gone, workers were nearly done for the day, waiting to close down because of the holiday.
This was a BOON in our favor – for while there are normally crowds of tourists present, we had a personal tour and the Monkey Forest all to ourselves!
Something that is NOT monkey related. How many of you remember “The Thing” by Volkswagen? I have seen several of them here in Bali, still running like champs. When we pulled into the parking lot of the Monkey Forest….this is what I saw:
Three “THINGS” in a row! Yellow, Blue and Red!
((In high school I thought I wanted one of these. WHAT was I thinking?!))
Back to the Monkey Forest:
The sanctuary of towering trees is home to three troupes of long-tailed Balinese Macaques, totaling about 600 monkeys ((So we were told)) and whether you are fanatic about animals or not these monkeys will make you smile.
They are EVERYWHERE --- and no, they are not contained, they roam free. The Balinese believe that the monkeys are holy. Sacred. And should be protected.
There is a statue of a creepy guy covered in monkeys. I’m not sure this is folklore, or if it is to warn us of escapades to come!
As we walk toward the shrine, we can see tufts of grey eyeing us from the trees.
Our guide tells us to not be afraid. The monkeys may approach us --- just don’t pet them.
I was not expecting this:
Or even this:
Let me tell you…his toes and fingers tickled, as well as the tail wrapped around my neck. And he left kisses in my hand! Don’t let the cuteness fool you though, when he found out I had no more treats…..he jumped down, bared his fangs at me and growled. Then he ran away to wherever monkeys run off to.
You don’t even have to invite them to jump on you. They just crawl right up your back and perch on your shoulder!
This one’s got Greg!
Emily’s not quite sure what to do with this guy either.
Can’t he come down now, please?!
This one is enchanted with Mary’s earrings! I’m not so sure her glasses are safe hanging from her shirt like that either!
We walked through the forest of ancient towering trees and watched family groupings watching us in return. I don’t know if you can see it, but the center monkey is the mama, and she has a 1 week old baby near her right arm tucked under her chin. Papa monkey is giving her a grooming.
The temple grounds are as beautiful as they are ancient. Speaking of ancient – these monkeys look like they carry the wisdom of the ages in their eyes.
As we make our way to go, we are aware of many pairs of eyes watching us.
Our time in the forest was short with the impending closing time – but with the personal tour and the even more personal attention from the monkeys, this will go down in the great halls of my memory as one of the greatest ever!
I just hope one of those don’t try to jump up into my lap or up onto my shoulder….
Anyone got any peanuts?