Ubud, Bali is known for its esoteric shops and abundance of yoga studios. You might remember it from the cycling through reflective rice paddies scene in Eat, Pray, Love. Many a pilgrim has trod its streets and meditated within its sacred midst, searching for a deeper meaning to life. Yet, despite spiritual seekers from all over the world finding themselves and their inner peace there, none can claim this lush paradise as their true home more so than the long tailed macaque. Follow Camilla’s adventures at DreamerDo.
Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud
“An hour spent with these impish creatures in the cooling respite of the towering trees, and you will understand the term “monkey business” through and through.”
If you wish to meet the resident kings of the Ubud kingdom, take a turn past The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The forest is home to over 600 monkeys that traverse the tree tops and swing down to play on the forest floor. An hour spent with these impish creatures in the cooling respite of the towering trees, and you will understand the term “monkey business” through and through.
“No inviting head of hair or unzipped backpack is safe”
Ranging in age from infants to 20 year olds spread across five different troops, the monkeys are endearingly inquisitive and mischievous. With their big round eyes, long toes and curling tails, they will have you under their irresistible grasp in no time. No inviting head of hair or unzipped backpack is safe from their probing fingers. But be careful, adorable as they are with their springy mohawks and cheeky expressions, monkeys are wild creatures and one bite from them could send you to the hospital for a mandatory rabies and tetanus shot. Treat the monkeys and the area with respect and the same will be done for you.
Much more so than a treasured tourist destination, Monkey Forest is symbol of the harmonious coexistence of man and nature. It is a sacred Balinese Hindu site with three temples (Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji and Pura Prajapati) used for ceremony and the worship of various Gods. Balinese Hinduism is different from any other form of Hinduism practised in the world. It is a spiritual melting pot of Animism, Ancestor Worship, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The prominent philosophy protected and propagated in Monkey Forest is that of Tri Hita Karana loosely translated as “three ways to reach spiritual and physical wellbeing”. The philosophy infers that, for spiritual fulfillment and happiness, humans must be in harmony with each other, with nature and with The Supreme God. The forest is both a site of ceremony and of conservation, ensuring that all three elements of life act in harmony with each other.
“Come see first hand what the bliss of life is all about.”
When you emerge from Monkey Forest you are guaranteed a calmer heart and an inner serenity achievable only from deep commune with nature and with yourself. Oh, and you may also have a couple hundred or so photographs of ridiculously cute monkeys playing up for the camera, lazing about, cleaning each other and generally just enjoying the beautiful fruits of this exquisite life. There is a lot we can learn from them. So ditch the yoga class, drop the spiritual guide and get up and get out. Come see first hand what the bliss of life is all about.
Address of the Monkey Sanctuary: JL Monkey Forest Road, Ubud, Bali. Call +62 361 971304.
Open from 8.30am to 6pm.
It costs 30,000 Indonesian Rupiah (R28) for an adult and 20,000 Indonesian Rupiah (R19) for a child,
To offset your carbon footprint you can have a tree planted for 150 000 Idonesian Rupiahs- R140.
It’s only a 20 minute walk on foot from central Ubud.
For a comprehensive guide to expat life in Bali read: