Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Bali 2018

The monkey forest sanctuary in Ubud, Bali was an exciting place where monkeys rule and humans are allowed to feed them under supervision. Not sure how good this is for the environment, probably not at all, but the monkeys seemed happy and cared for and several badly behaved humans were told to leave.

The monkey forest sanctuary in Ubud, Bali was an exciting place where monkeys rule and humans are allowed to feed them under supervision. Not sure how good this is for the environment, probably not at all, but the monkeys seemed happy and cared for and several badly behaved humans were told to leave.

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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

Tonsai Beach: The Best Beach in Thailand

We visited Thailand back in December, during the mourning period for the late king. During our two week trip we saw Phuket, Krabi and Bangkok. Phuket was beautiful but crawling with drunken tourists. Bangkok was exciting but really hot without a possibility to cool off in the ocean. Then there was Krabi, which was basically paradise on earth!

To get to our accommodation on Tonsai beach, we took a ferry from Phuket. It was inexpensive, quick and extremely scenic. They also sold cheap beers on the boat! We booked the Chillout Bungalows through Airbnb. The cozy wooden huts had no hot water, electricity for just half of the day and our bathroom was full of frogs. It was the perfect getaway!

Tonsai beach is a small beach with only a few hotels and shops. It’s located in between two of the most popular beaches in Krabi: Ao Nang and Railay. Both of these are easy to get to and Ao Nang even has a McDonald’s! Tonsai, on the other hand, can only be reached by boat or via a rocky rain forest path (sometimes requiring some swimming) from Railay beach.

Traveling by long-tail boat is a lot of fun if you don’t mind getting a little wet. The boats run from as early as 6 AM to as late as 10 PM. You either have to pay for the entire boat or wait for others to join you on the journey. We never waited more than 15 minutes.

Whether or not you’re staying on Tonsai beach, I recommend that you visit it. You will be greeted on the walkway by monkeys that will grab your bags in search for food. These monkeys will also wake you up by jumping on the roof of your bungalow and will ransack through anything you leave on the beach.

Tonsai is also one of the most popular destinations for rock-climbers. The beach doesn’t get professionally cleaned like Ao Nang and Railay, so you can spend hours shell-hunting. Just avoid collecting starfish, they are illegal to travel with!

Since the beach is so inaccessible, everything there is more expensive than it would be on the adjacent beaches. However even these inflated prices are cheap when compared to prices in Western countries. The only ridiculously priced item is anti-itch medicine. If you’re a mosquito magnet like I am, these pills are your dream come true!

Finally, it’s not just cool, isolated, full of monkeys, shells and everything that is cool and awesome about Thailand. It’s also the most beautiful beach in the world! See for yourself…

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8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Thailand

8 tips to help you save money, avoid diarrhea and theft by monkeys in Thailand.

I spent hours planning our 10 day trip from China to Thailand. We booked flights, accommodation and tours weeks if not months in advance. It turned out to be one of the best trips of our lives! However, there is SO much that I wish I would have known to make the trip better:

1. Do NOT book everything in advance!

If making reservations give you as much happiness as it give me, do it anyway. But if you want to spend less money, don’t do it at all. It is much cheaper to walk into a hotel and check in on-the-spot than to make an Airbnb reservation 4 months in advance. Same goes for most tours, trips and experiences you may be interested in.

2. Avoid touristy beaches

This may seem obvious but please bear with me. Touristy beaches in Thailand are overcrowded, have vendors bugging you literally every 2 minutes plus they are fake and look ugly. The only reason to visit such a beach is to parasail, rent a speed boat or do other water activities.

Just take a look at Patong Beach in Phuket in comparison to Ton Sai beach on Krabi, where you can get by taking a 2 hour, $15 ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket:

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3. Always have toilet paper

Thai toilets are not the greatest thing in the world. Sometimes you will find a typical Asian-style hole in the ground but there are plenty of sit-down toilets too. Very often there will be no toilet paper and even if there is, you can not flush it down the toilet. The sewer systems just aren’t built for flushing anything inorganic, so don’t do it.

It’s not only bad for the environment but just imagine how embarrassed you would be if you clogged a public toilet…

4. Everything can be cheaper, so haggle!

Most things in Thailand seem ridiculously cheap, especially if you are from the US or a Euro-zone country. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fairly priced. Even on the most secluded beach, you can find a meal for 50 – 80 THB (around $2), a touristy shirt for up to 300 THB ($9) and a larger than pint-size beer for 140 THB ($3).

Keep in mind that in Bangkok you can get street food for as little as 10 THB (28 cents), shirts for 40 – 100 THB ($1-3) and the same size beer for 50 THB ($1.5). Obviously if you are in a restaurant or store, the prices are set. But any stall, market or street vendor practically expect you to haggle.

5. Bring bug spray, sunscreen and anti-diarrhea pills

I did say that most things in Thailand are ridiculously cheap… but bug spray, sunscreen and anti-diarrhea pills are not. There is a high demand for these products so they jack up the prices accordingly. There is one more reason why you shouldn’t buy sunscreen in Asia…

6. Avoid buying skin-care products

It is hard to resist the low prices and crazy varieties of masks, creams and other skin-care products. I spent a good 15 minutes browsing the snail slime, fruit scented and sea-salt masks. That’s when I noticed that they all have one thing in common… skin whitening chemicals!

These chemicals won’t turn your skin paper white, just like the anti-wrinkle cream won’t magically turn your face Barbie smooth. However foreign chemicals can give you a nasty rash which will ruin all your selfies. Even deodorants and douches in Asia will sometimes have whitening chemicals, so make sure to read or translate labels before you purchase anything.

7. “Not spicy” is a lie

If you don’t like spicy food, Thailand will not be kind to you. Avoid basically all salads as they are insanely spicy. Even my husband, who loves spicy food, had trouble finishing the “not spicy” salad that I ordered. Even picking out the finely chopped chili peppers doesn’t help much. It’s a shame because they are otherwise delicious!

Although I hate spicy food, there were times that I either had to eat it or starve for hours. I did my best, cried a little and stocked up on those anti-diarrhea pills that I mentioned earlier. Most people who aren’t used to the spicy cuisine will end up on a toilet afterwards. If you have the pills at hand, you can avoid surprises that risk ruining all your plans.

8. Monkeys are NOT friends

Monkey are extremely cute and so photogenic! They are also evil little things that are not afraid of you and will steal your stuff if they get the chance. Ethical issues aside, don’t approach them with a bag of food if you wish to feed them – they will grab it and take whatever else they can. Unless you can climb trees and don’t fear heights, you may never see your stuff again. They also bite.

Sorry for the long post. I don’t have any potato pics so here’s a thieving monkey:

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