I like street names that tell it to you straight. If you go to “Big Pagoda Avenue,” you expect to see a big pagoda! Or “Roman Amphitheater Way” – if there’s not a Roman amphitheater there, it’s false advertising! Well, no surprise that at the end of Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, Bali, there is, indeed, a forest of monkeys.

My feet still sore from the sea urchin I stepped on at Sanur beach a few days earlier (See Wow Place #26), I limp down the path to the forest, where I meet Linda, a librarian from Toronto. Now, I wouldn’t say that Linda is naïve, but she most definitely doesn’t know monkeys.

“Come here little monkey, I’ve got a treat for you.”
“Uh, Linda, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“The park ranger said there’s little risk of it biting or scratching me.”
“Well, that’s not really the danger here.”

And then, almost on cue, it happens. The cutest, little white monkey you’re ever going to see rushes up, ignores Linda’s banana offering, and snatches her glasses right off her nose.

“Oh no, I need those glasses to see. How am I going to get them back.”
“The ranger warned me of this. You’re going to have to trade for them. Have you got something shiny, a coin or a necklace?”
“This is just ridiculous. I am not bartering with a monkey!”
“You want your glasses back or what?”

Linda got her glasses back eventually; it cost her two coins, a bracelet AND the banana. Inflation apparently has hit Bali as well.

Unwelcome negotiations notwithstanding, Monkey Forest Road is a cool place, with a LOT, I mean a LOT of monkeys. Just don’t think that it’s lack of an admission fee means you’ll get out of there scot free.

When’s the last time you stepped into a situation naively and found yourself getting fleeced? Did you react with self recrimination, or treat it as a valuable learning experience?