Monkey Forest was one of the more traumatising experiences from my time in Bali. A forest filled with hundreds of monkeys that spend their days stealing from, and leaping on top of, tourists? It was never going to be somewhere that I enjoyed.
I tried to avoid passing through this land of nightmares, but sometimes it was unavoidable. It was easier and quicker to pass through the forest in March 2012, too.
I had bought Dave a bottle of Sprite as a present and was walking to our apartment
There was a shortcut through Monkey Forest that passed through Monkey Forest and I decided to take it. I skipped happily along the dirt track, plastic bag in hand. I imagined the sheer delight Dave would display upon being presented with the magical lemon and lime concoction. I knew it would win me the Best Girlfriend Ever award.
Then it happened.
As I danced around a crowd of monkeys that were eyeing me up with suspicion, I noticed one of them slowly and deliberately creep towards me.
Instinctively, I sped up, feeling my heart begin to race as he increased his pace to match mine. I tutted and stopped on the path, turning to face him. “Go awaaaaay!” I hissed, stamping my feet on the ground. My attempts to intimidate and scare him failed and I watched him lunge towards my bag with an agility that I could only dream of possessing.
With a single swipe of his arm he had ripped through my plastic bag and snatched my beloved bottle of Sprite.
“No!” I squealed.
Assuming it was simply a mistake and that the monkey had manners, I held out my hand, fully expecting him to hand the bottle back to me.
He didn’t respond, and started to twist the lid of the Sprite, trying to get inside.
This meant war.
I stamped my feet once more and growled with all the force I could muster – this tactic usually works when I am trying to chase intimidating cats and dogs away. However, this monkey was hardened. He was hardened from a lifetime of encounters far more brutal than a small girl tapdancing near his face.
Snarling and baring his teeth, he hissed and began to charge at me, reaching top speed in just a few seconds.
I cowered for a moment, waiting for the sonic boom to send my to my feet. The shockwave never hit and the monkey was closing in on me. As my eyes widened in horror, my future flashed before me in a series of images:
The monkey sinking his teeth into my leg.
Going to the hospital to get rabies shots.
The shots failing to work.
Lauren foaming at the mouth.
Oh my god.
I was about to die.
I turned to escape, running faster than my legs could carry me. After two steps the inevitable happened. My flip flops slid out from under me and I fell flat on my face, the cool mossy ground providing welcome relief from the humidity. I shook my head. This was not the time to be relaxing.
I scrambled onto my hands and knees, and began to drag myself along the ground. I winced, feeling the sharp rocks ripping the flesh from my legs. The skin on my hands began to tear open.
I shrieked, realising that the battle was over. There was no point in trying to escape now. The monkey had outwitted me. He was the victor and it was time for me to surrender. I turned around, squinting, bracing for the attack, waiting to die.
But nothing happened.
It had gone.
The monkey had disappeared and in its place was a crowd of Japanese tourists, eyeing me with a mixture of confusion, horror and glee.
My face flushed as red as the blood dribbling from my knees. I clambered back to my feet, brushed myself off and stumbled back to our apartment. I was empty handed and full of sorrow.
What a day.