Friday, 3 July 2009

The Monkey Muggers of Uluwatu

Uluwatu is one of Bali´s must-see sites. An ancient Hindu temple perched on cliffs to the south of the island, it´s a tranquil place. It´s five minutes from Padang Padang, and doesn´t take long to get around.

We were talked into hiring a guide, as they told us the monkeys here are persistent thieves. Telling them (the guides, not the monkeys) I was from Liverpool, and would see them coming, didn´t deter them. So we coughed up and off we went. It turns out they weren´t making it up...these apes are accomplished villains.

A few days before we arrived, a Japanese tourist had his wallet taken from his pocket. The culprit retired to a nearby tree hanging over the cliffs and proceeded to eat the $300 he found in it. Then he chewed up the wallet. The guides watch out for the monkeys while you take photos of them, because apparently they like cameras, too. I got a nice shot of one little one chewing up a pair of Oakley Gascans after trying them on and deciding he didn´t suit them. I soon decided to stick mine in my pocket. I took a few good pictures of the monkeys, but this one is the stand-out image. I didn´t need to speak Monkey to understand they were up to no good; I was just relieved they weren´t plotting about me.

We stuck around for the Becak (fire dance), a traditional dance which tells a story of the Balinese Hindu faith. I tried reading the story in the pidgin English on the pamphlet, but gave up before I got a headache. The dance took a while to get going, but when the fiery moments came at the end, one of the gods kicking the flaming bales high into the night and almost burning members of the audience, it was pretty spectacular.

No comments: