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Tour of Ubud's Sacred Monkey Forest, Bali

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The Sly, Sticky-Fingered Monkeys of the Ubud Monkey Forest
Monkeys making off with a schoolboy's food, Ubud Monkey Forest.

Monkeys making off with a schoolboy's food, Ubud Monkey Forest.

Image courtesy of Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com.

The crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis) that inhabit the Ubud Monkey Forest number in the hundreds, and are not the slightest bit afraid of humans.

The villagers of Padangtegal feed the monkeys daily, but that hasn't stopped the monkeys from picking on the tourists who visit their forest. The macaques are very aggressive, and will steal anything that looks shiny or edible.

The last time your guide visited the Ubud Monkey Forest, a group of schoolkids were also there as part of a field trip - easy pickings for these smart little primates. A group of monkeys (pictured above) ganged up on one schoolkid, stole his lunch bag, scattered the contents on the forest floor, and made off with the goods. A little while later, your guide saw a monkey deftly extract a water bottle from a schoolgirl's bag, unscrew the top, and drink its contents.

So don't assume these monkeys are tame: they are very wild, and will attack if provoked. Keep any shiny, nickable objects like sunglasses, cameras, and jewelry out of reach and/or hidden. Do not smile at the monkeys - for macaques, showing your teeth is an aggressive act. Do not feed the monkeys; they get enough food from the villagers. Some vendors will try to sell you fruit to give to the monkeys; do not humor them.

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