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Monkey Business

28 Mar Posted by in Kim Powell | 2 comments
Monkey Business

As a naturalist, I have learned a few tricks of the trade: Never look a monkey in the eye or set your passport down within their reach. Several years ago, my best friend from childhood HollyBeth and I headed off on an adventure to Bali.

HollyBeth and I have been best friends for 4 decades. We are the epitome of the odd couple. HB—Six feet tall, blonde and draped in a flowing skirt, me—quick dry shorts and Keens with a perpetual layer of salt caked around my gills. Adorned with a matching pair of crows feet outlining my weathered face, I am the antithesis of HB’s southern glow. Owner of HollyBeth’s Natural Luxury in Atlanta, HB creates soothing organic skin care products that quench the hide of even the saltiest mermaids.

We started off to explore the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, despite warnings about  the kleptocratic and amorous nature of the resident monkeys. As we wondered the forest, we came  across a couple of long tailed macaques going at it! And really, who could be prepared to watch your closet genetic relative running naked though a forest in the throws of passion? We may snicker about our parent’s infamous “locked door” or assume that they had sex twice, once for each sibling. But seriously, do we really want to witness the missing link having a good old-fashioned romp right there in front of the sacred rock statues? After a while the macaques had mostly vanished and drenched in afterglow of laughter shared between childhood friends, we wandered the forest in silence.

Then I saw it.  A bug adorned in metallic green with bulging eyes and hairy toes, perched upon the greenery. I couldn’t resist the urge to document this! I quietly set my camera bag down. Glancing upward I made brief eye contact with a macaque perched high in the forest canopy.  As I focused the camera lens, my clutch, that third world life support containing my passport, was suddenly in the dexterous paws of a stealthy primate. Tossing my head back I belted out a most embarrassing scream: “SOMEONE…PLEASE… HELP US!. In ironic contrast to my helpless plea, HB jumped into action. With skirt billowing and matching scarf taking flight, she charged that monkey demanding the immediate return of my ticket home. As the monkey lunged towards her lily-white ankles, canines glistening in the tropical sun, HB dodged and snagged the bag. Saved by a Southern Belle!

Years before our Bali adventure, I led guided trips through the Brazilian Amazon and had heard tales about the local monkeys. We arrived at a treetop resort in the heart of the rainforest and began touring the premises. Our clients—a group of curious grandmothers—were encouraged to enjoy the resort but avoid entering Cabin #3. As the story goes, the women nudged the door open to take a peak of the infamous cabin. Everything appeared normal until a very well endowed woolly monkey burst into the cabin.  With a sinister look cast in their direction, he leapt onto the bed and had his way with an unsuspecting pillow over and over again!

From Brazil to Bali, heed this warning:  Please folks…Never Look a Monkey In the Eye!

Kim Powell is owner, operator and head naturalist at Blue Water Ventures in Santa Cruz, CA. Offering naturalist-led field trips for students and adventurous vacations designed to be relaxing with an educational component for women. Kim has been organizing single and multiple day excursions to extraordinarily beautiful places since 1985. Find out more at

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