Everyone tells you to go to the Sacred Monkey Forest here in Ubud – it’s in most guide books, on most people’s to-do lists and at a mere $2 AUD it’s well worth a go.
That said – if you don’t like monkeys, they scare you a bit or you are not keen on being ambushed – best to give it a miss…
After checking in and re-fuelling on my first day I tottered down Jalan Monkey Forest, not paying too much attention to my destination, dipping in and out of shops and skimming over cafe menus until I found myself at the gates. I paid my entrance fee and read the instructions and handed over my bag to the security so I wasn’t carrying anything appealing to cheeky monkeys. I had just bought a bunch of bananas and was putting money back in my bag when a monkey raced up behind me, jumped onto the counter and stole the whole bunch! He looked very pleased with himself once he had scampered up a tree to safety and had the whole bunch to himself!
Once in the park you encounter people feeding monkeys left right and centre. I saw a keeper instructing people to hold a banana way above your head so the monkey runs up your body and eats it from your shoulder. Of course I managed to find a bit of banana on the floor to have a go, and up the monkey ran!
Unable to find someone to thrust my camera at, I managed a quick snap myself before the little dude jumped off. Later, finding a monkey with nothing to do and another bit of disgarded banana I tried it again, this time two monkeys jumped on! Suddenly a little scared that this might no go well, I was quickly rescued by another tourist, wanting a monkey photo of his own, he leant in and one jumped off. Banana finished, the monkey on my head then started working on my hair! Perhaps he was kindly checking me for nits? I quickly removed my sunglasses before he could get them, and held onto my necklace as his little hands started trying to find things to steal, I raised me hand in panic and got a little nip on the finger from a monkey who wasn’t keen to hop off any time soon! Eventually he jumped off as I started walking about, and I continued my journey through the somewhat magical Monkey Forest.
Later on whilst walking down the street of the park itself something landed on my shoulder from a great height with a heavy splat which also hit my face. Guess what it was? Monkey poo – from a great height. It smells revolting and of course is probably good luck, although I thought it was pretty shitty luck! The first people that saw me didn’t have any tissues and unkindly carried on walking. Thankfully a few steps later I encountered a gay American couple who went into a shop to ask for tissues and helped wipe me up as best they could before I could find a toilet for a proper wash!
All part of the fun!
Transperth – or public transport in WA to be more general is NOT brilliant. In Slovakia – a country you wouldn’t expect to have a well organised or easy to use transport far trumps what Perth has to offer. In Slovakia I went on a number of adventures – weekends and day trips, and although sometimes complicated ( there are a number of posts offering examples of this in Slovakia Stories ) they were never impossible. My point being that I have found it incredibly hard – in fact impossible to have adventures that don’t require a set of wheels. Places of interest are simply not served by public transport – or at least they are but require a number of changes, lengthy transits or not enough time to meet connections or return trips. In Slovakia I travelled far and wide on a network of trains, trams and buses and never found anywhere I couldn’t get to.
So on Friday night, after pulling my hair out trying to find somewhere I could get to and spend a reasonable amount of time in – I texted a friend on the off chance they wanted to accompany me on a day out… and drive their car there and back. Fortunately the response was positive, making me very happy to set my alarm early for Saturday morning.
I needn’t have bothered as I was awoken at some antisocial hour by an incredibly loud thunderstorm, that seemed to be directly above my head, shaking my little cabin.
Two hours later, when the thunder, lightning and torrential rain had ceased chariot arrived and we set off for Serpentine Falls.
First stop was Serpentine Dam. A vast expanse of water on the Serpentine river whose catchment is one of the major supplies of drinking water for Perth. Do not quote or correct me on this please – I don’t make notes when I go exploring – I remember and recount information and openly admit to getting it wrong sometimes!
This dam was not on my do list – didn’t even know it was there. We stumbled upon it first of all, missing a turning and completely bypassing the falls. A wrong turn worth taking I believe…
Next came the falls. Entering the national park from the opposite side we pulled up into the central picnic area – a smell of sausages on the barbecues greeting us as we assessed the trail maps. There was a damp, yet pleasant smell in the air – of fresh, green plants – ready to spring into bloom. It reminded me so much of Železná studničk – Bratislava Forest Park – and a wonderful day I had spent hiking there at the beginning of Spring some time ago.
We took an alternative path to get a higher view of the Falls, only to realise that the easier, simpler route led you to a far better viewing platform – purposely built with steps into the upper pool for warmer days when the water invites you for a swim. It wasn’t particularly cold – so with a little more planning ( bikini and a towel ) I could have been persuaded to have a dip. I have had a waterfall swim already which was up near Cairns (QLD) last year, so that box had already been ticked. Thankfully.
After an ample amount of time taking in the scene and sitting on a rock that plenty of other people wanted to sit on, we headed off on another trail. A 6km, grade 4 hike up to Baldwin’s Bluff. This very much reminded me of my hiking weekend, again in Slovakia – in Terchova where the weather, climate and hiking grades were similar. Yes – it has been 2 years since I have enjoyed a good hike!
Our trail was a steep, stony path up the side of a gorge to a lookout over the waterfalls and Kitty’s Gorge. It was flanked either side with nature’s display of Spring bursting into bloom. The smell was worthy of being bottled – a fragrant reminder that Spring has sprung and Summer will be arriving fairly soon. The humidity and threat of rain enhanced the aroma and as the climb evened out, the flowers grew brighter and smelt fresher.
I could have joined the masses who stopped to photograph every flower, but I would have bored my companion to tears and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the exhilarating high I got as I sprang onwards – pain in my back or legs totally eradicated as my heightened senses absorbed everything available. I don’t get what they call Runner’s High – but what I feel when I walk or hike in a place of natural beauty is something I imagine can be equated to that feeling.
The walk down had a few slips and slides, but no injuries were obtained other than a large bite I, of course, (wouldn’t be anyone else) received right on the kneecap of my still sore ice skating knee!
I snapped away at a few views and flowers, as an excuse to catch my unfit breath but was disinterested in hiking behind my camera lens so hope the atmosphere has been sufficiently captured from my relatively spontaneous, yet wonderfully rewarding day in the park!