Fat Monkeys & Scary Dragons

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Monday, 17 January, 2011

Rinca, Indonesia

We have found Bali to be pretty pricey, and as a consequence, the island has had a bit of a wrestling match with our budget. Don’t get me wrong, I see Bali as a great place for a short holiday, just a bit rough on the wallet of a tight git like myself. I mean, I saw a keyring for the equivalent of £6.50 in one shop – that just won’t do, not as far as a Yorkshire man is concerned anyhow.

Therefore, this week’s budget mostly just went on food. Regardless, we still had a pretty nice beach close by to lounge about at; there are more stressful ways to spend your days – such as carefully selected which dead bees are right for your bee specific museum.

We still managed to explore the island a little bit – most notably to visit Goa Gajah (the elephant cave) and the Monkey Forest, which were both well worth the trips.

Goa Gajah is very popular for both tourism and worship, creating a pretty weird blend of guests – and when the two collide it can create quite a bit of tension, let me tell you.

For instance, I saw one mum positioning her kids either side of a Ganesha statue – this family were really embracing the holiday spirit, by the way, both kids were in ‘I Heart Bali’ t-shirts and elephant necklaces. The photo was clearly a must for the album.

When all of a sudden, a religious bloke stood in between them, with his back to the camera, and started to pray to the statue. It was a pretty long prayer too. The kids, bless them, held that fake smile for the entire time he was there – the mother, however, was fuming – mostly expressing her frustrations through loud huffing and puffing.

She also kept making a point of having to stand in really obscure positions in order to get the shot. I’m pretty sure the praying guy was very much lost in his element and didn’t even notice though. Fortunately, her actions weren’t completely wasted, as it kept me thoroughly entertained.

Goa Gajah’s alternative name is Elephant Cave, as the feature attraction is a cave that has been finely carved into the shape of, erm, a demon’s head? I guess elephants are just too difficult to sculpt, but at the same time, the name Demon Cave is not very welcoming – so they dealt with the problem accordingly.

The cave is probably the most picturesque part of the entire place, so, you know, if you’re a pushy mum then your perfect ‘we love Bali’ photo would be there. Not only does it look cool, but it has also been left alone. In other words, it does not appear to have been touched up and polished every year like so many historical landmarks are. Elephant Cave has a lot of rot around the edges, which I think nicely emphasises its age and authenticity.

As mentioned, our other significant outing in Bali was the trip to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

Monkeys are hilarious animals – they just do whatever the hell they want. Our visit to the sanctuary came with a whole bunch of slapstick comedy moments. Let’s start with the fight between the fat monkey and the fat woman over the fat banana.

The women refused to give her recently purchased banana to the oversized monkey, so he slapped her right across the chops. She retaliated by slapping him back, before running after him and then shouting up the tree that he had climbed into. I have never desired a video recording device so much in my life.

While the monkeys play by their own rules, they don’t take too kindly to secondhand smoke. We witnessed a big, fat monkey rip apart a man’s packet of tobacco – the poor bloke was halfway through making himself a roll up cigarette too. I decided that this would make a good anti-smoking advert.

It is no coincidence that both of the primates in the tales I’ve told were fat either. The majority of the monkeys in the sanctuary are obese, due to the outrageous amount of bananas that enthusiastic tourists provide. Even for a monkey, bananas must get a bit boring after a while. I reckon some of those monkeys would have given their right arm for just one orange.

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That pretty much wraps up the interesting points from our time in Bali, thus, let’s move away from monkeys and onto really cool, venomous dragons instead.

Komodo dragons live on two Indonesian islands, Rinca and Komodo – we were lucky enough to visit both.

The boat taking us to Komodo stopped on the way, giving us the chance to watch hundreds of flying foxes collectively soared over our heads from one island to another. It was an incredible sight – inspiring, in fact. No, I did not try to convince Ruby that we can fly, that would be stupid.

Instead, I’ve decided that I will write a comic book based around the creature. It will be called ‘Flying Fox Man’ with his arch-nemesis being The Civet Cat-Women – whose spells can make people think that eating her crap is a good thing. It’s a work in progress.

Once we arrived on the island, I soon realised these animals are not to be messed with. Our guide told us that baby Komodo dragons are forced to live in the trees until they reach the age of four, otherwise their mother will eat them – that is pretty frigging ruthless! You’re not going to find a much harsher start to life than that, “Oh, so you think you’ve had it tough? All my mates were birds as a kid, because my mum wanted to cut me open and dip me into some ketchup.”

On Rinca, we saw a buffalo slumped in a heap on the floor, essentially waiting to die. It had previously been wounded by a dragon and now had four of the reptiles surrounding its fragile body. That one wasn’t going to end well! I mean, they eat their own kids, imagine what these sickos would do to another species! We would have probably witnessed them electrocuting the poor buffalo’s nipples if we had waited around long enough.

The guide informed us that they will remain in this position until the animal either dies or makes a sudden move – it felt like we were watching the most gruelling game of musical statues ever.

An animated French bloke who accompanied us on the trip had a fantastic recollection of the scene I just described – he was bragging to somebody at the hostel bar about the nine, yes, nine, Komodo dragons which were surrounding a buffalo that could only hobble around and scream (it remained completely still and silent). You just know that by the time he eventually gets back to France the whole of Noah’s Ark will have surrounded that poor buffalo.

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