Do you believe that we are one small scratch away from the primate in the evolutionary scale? Do you regularly check your partner’s fur for small parasites that you can eat? Do you find yourself enjoying swinging from tree to tree with offspring on your back?
If your answers were yes, chances are that you would enjoy walking in the some of the more ‘jungly’ areas of Asia.
A few days ago, we walked around the MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore. Much of the area was beautifully boardwalked – with typical Singaporean attention to pristine environment and safe thoroughfare. As usual, it was amazingly hot (with extreme humidity topping 90%) so we aimed to walk for a while, share some buns we had procured from a local bakery, drink litres of water and then stroll back to our car.
There were 8 in the walking party, including Mac, Pip and Pop Jones, my sister Gayle, my niece, her husband and their 5-Year old son, Creeby.
The trek started innocently enough. Apart from the fact that at the half-way mark, Mac suggested extending the walk by 10 kilometres to take in the tree-top walk and the next reservoir because he wanted to ‘see some monkeys’, we stuck to our intial plan of the shorter route. I mentioned he could further the hike himself if he wanted, but the kids get hot very quickly and a couple of hours is enough (for them and me) before a break.
Mac decided to stick with his pack. He had been shopping earlier that morning to secure the semi-sweet and savoury buns and he held them in a relaxed fashion in a plastic bag (it’s not world blog anti plastic day today *hides*). We passed a couple of signs which the kids and I read with mirth.
‘Please do not feed the monkeys‘ the signs decreed. They had funny cartoon primates with a big, warning ‘stop’ motif through the monkey with a human banana. ‘It will cause them to be aggressive and competitive.’
We were in central Singapore, about ten minutes from the CBD! Some of the walking party ‘pfffted’ at the signs – okay, only one person huffed, and that was me – but we decided we wouldn’t eat while walking along a more remote part of the track. We were tourists. We wanted to abide by the suggestions and the last thing we wanted to do was to upset the hairy locals.
To conclude the walk we entered a well-tracked, jungle path. Ten mintues into this final section, one of the kids pointed ahead on the gravel and the cry went up, MONKEY!
To be perfectly honest, I don’t like monkeys. It’s a bit like clowns and kangeroos and mice – they’re all supposed to be cute and ‘awwww inspiring’ but sometimes these things verge on creepy. As the older monkey showed no hesitation or shyness and walked up to our group, I silently hoped it wouldn’t get too close to the kids so they would touch it.
It didn’t. It wandered through our human pack, looking us up and down (as though saying ‘sup babe?) and strolled out the back as some of the monkey-lovers in the group took some pics. He stopped about 5 metres away, stared at us and made this hideous, chest-infection type of coughing noise.
After some of our gang said ‘oh, poor thing, it’s sick’ and ‘ooooh, how cute’ or ‘I hope he’s not sending some sort of signal to the rest of his pack’, we walked on VERY glad we had not fed and/or patted him. I know I wasn’t alone in this thought. Airborne diseases crossed my mind with the speed of a banana split
Less than twenty minutes later, we realized he was merely a scout!.
I saw three small fuzzy things scurry along the side of the track and alerted my sister. She reached for her camera in the wake of being innundated by cuteness. Little did we realize that the tree beside us was kinetic with Monkey Energy. We were being surrounded by the furballs.
But the largest monkey had only one target in mind. While the others distracted us with a baby on a mummy’s tummy, some tiny monkeys scampering and smiling at us, monkeys dancing about the kids, the gang leader lined up Mac’s plastic bag. Within seconds, the leader reached up, sprung open the bottom of the bag and had Mac’s buns firmly in primate arms and up a tree!
Startled, Mac held onto the plastic bag. While chastizing the gang leader – who was now leering at Mac from a safe, very greedy distance - several others hung around his dangling plastic bag looking for MOAR!!!!! Being a mother ape, I was hissing at some that were coming too close to Pip and Pop, Creeby was backed into his own dad’s arms, as Mac wrote off the buns as lost but strove to protect what was left of his plastic.
There was no food left but the monkey gang didn’t realize. It happened too quickly for Mac to associate the continuing advance of the gang on the plastic swaying in the breeze, so all that was left for him to do was to:
(d) growl and show his teeth?
Yep. That’s right! In the middle of the monkey melee, Mac bore his teeth and scared the monkeys away with the power of animalistic growls. *pats him*. One of the monkeys escaped to a tree and was eye-height with Mac, still giving cheek (the monkey, not Mac). Mac glared at the monkey and they both showed their teeth to each other and made similar noises . . .
A few moments grace allowed Mac to appreciate the plastic bag was attracting the gang still. Once pocketed, the monkeys ramshackled their way into the scrub and left a pack of evolved primates standing, gaping in their wake. The term ‘what the f*ck?’ has never been more appropriate.
The entire rabble had taken less than a couple o’ minutes, but the memories and stories (and embellishments) will last a lifetime. The moral of this tale? You are bananas to hang around when monkeys are hungry? We couldn’t see the ambush fur the trees? Humans & Monkeys: there will always be growling over pinched buns.
Stay tuned for other strange animal encounters, including elephant baths, bats to the face, snakes on a plane tree and gecko in moi cupboard.