Bali: Uluwatu Sunset & Evil Genius Monkeys

The sun was just beginning to turn from a bright yellow to a soft pink that would soon spread across the entire horizon, illuminating the perfectly placed clouds. We let our guard down for just a minute to enjoy the sunset at Uluwatu temple with our real eyes as well as through their digital extensions that included a Canon EOS M3, Yi 4K camera, GoPro Hero 3 and two Xiaomi Note 3 phone. The frantic clicking and loud wowing finally died down and we sighed in content simultaneously, which is the exact moment the monkeys came.

I almost fell over when Isaac suddenly yelled out in shock. A particularly fat and grumpy looking monkey had appeared out of nowhere. It managed to climb up Isaac, grab the glasses off his head and jump safety in the blink of an eye. It sat on a pillar and waved them mockingly just out of reach of his flailing muscular arms. The flock of tourists turned their cameras away from the sunset and towards the monkey in anticipation. As if enjoying the spot light, the monkey lifted the glasses and twisted the frames until something snapped. The audience ‘awww’ed in unison as if someone was holding up cue cards. All Isaac could do was stare at the monkey defeated, realizing that he would no longer be able to enjoy Bali in HD.

An elderly woman wearing a typical Balinese outfit that only a local could pull off appeared as suddenly as the monkeys. She reached inside her fashionable tangle of maroon-colored sarongs and pulled out a ripe mangosteen that the monkeys noticed immediately. Tapping my husband on the shoulder she motioned to the fruit before tossing it to the monkey. It screeched and dove for the fruit, dropping the glasses on the ground as hard as it could, the little devil.

We scrambled to pick them up among chaotic yells by onlookers while the monkey’s entire family ran out of the trees and descended upon us. I held the slightly bent frame protectively, quickly realizing that one of the lenses was still missing. The lady smiled at me knowingly and reached back into her outfit – clearly as practical as it was stylish – and produced a second mangosteen. She threw it at another monkey that dropped the lens immediately¬† from a height of 2 meters.

I took the miraculously unharmed glass to see if it could avoid having to get yet another new pair of glasses. Some men just can’t go a month without losing, breaking and having their possessions stolen. Isaac watched speechlessly as I fiddled with the glasses and, I assume, contemplated why he’s a magnet for bad luck. Or at least he should have wondered that… but since men generally don’t overthink everything like women, his thoughts were probably more along the lines of ‘can I drink a beer in a holy temple?’ *sigh*

The short-attention-spanned crowd grew bored and dispersed while the Balinese woman shooed away the remaining monkeys before turning to look at us. She slapped her hands together either to clear the mangosteen juice or just to symbolise a job well done. Soon her palms are turned upward and her brown eyes met Isaac’s with a demanding glint. Groans broke his silence as he unwillingly handed her money in response to my raised eyebrows. He does owe her, after all. She mumbled angrily, probably expecting more gratitude and compensation, but we were already walking away.

I somehow manage to get the glasses into a functional enough state for the remaining sunset and placed them lovingly on Isaac’s grumpy face. We locked eyes and I could tell that we are both wondering the same thing. Did the lady train the monkeys to steal belongings to make her an extra penny? Or did the monkeys, knowing about people’s freed for money that reflects their own greed for food, train the lady?

Some mysteries of the world will never be solved

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