Monkey See Monkey Do

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Thursday, January 17, 2013

I didn't want to leave for hiking this morning. I just wanted to sit and watch the monkeys!

There's a huge pack (is that what they're called? Pod? Troop?) of macaques that like to congregate outside our chalet. They are hilarious to watch!  Youngsters wrestling with each other, rebellious teens up on our porch trying to steal things and peeking into windows, mothers holding wrinkly babies...Up in the trees they nibble on various things and to get down they swing closer and closer to the ground or use straight trees like fire fighter poles! It's like National Geographic on our doorstep! There are many warnings about these particular monkeys around. We cannot leave doors or windows open or else they'll be right in! Also must be careful of food packets...Brian was very suspicious of some monkeys being a bit too cheeky. When hoisting our pack to go out for the day, the monkey immediately became intently interested in us. I think they've learned that backpacks also mean food. At breakfast, one particularly bad monkey snuck right in the cafeteria and waited for the perfect second and stole a plate right off the table! In seconds he was up in the rafters licking it clean. Only when finished did he drop the plate on the heads of those shouting below. Very bad, but funny at the same time! I don't know if I will tire of taking their photos. The Mom's and babies are especially cute and some of the facial expressions are priceless! (I burned through almost 4GB of pictures today...)

During breakfast we noticed another type of monkey walk along the beach. I think it's called a silver leave and I must have counted 18-20 of them! From a distance they look like they have little pointed heads and somewhat resemble Ewoks. They are quite small and have peaked faces with furry mouths. Actually, they're quite furry all over and I loved the sight of their long silver fur blowing in the sea air. You could immediately sense the difference between these and the macaques.  These monkeys have a nice calm demure and didn't make a sound – even when they were playing.

Then overhead were the large and awkward looking probiscus monkeys. Not only do they have funny noses, but their rib-cage and stomach are large and barrel-like which dramatically narrows to disproportionately tiny hips with arms and legs that are long and gangly. They are quite calm and just kindof sit and eat the new sprouting leaves. This poor tree is bare and as it tried to make new leaves they're all picked clean. There was one family group with a new baby – very sweet!

Over the few days that we were there, we started to really notice the bad side of the macaques. The one afternoon I tried to photograph them, they were not at all friendly like before. Very standoffish and either ran away from me or looked like they wanted to confront me.

On a small hike we heard a mother macaque making these strange sounds. She came right onto the railing of the raised board walk we were walking on and looked at us closely. With nowhere to go, we just tried to stand to the one side away from her. Then her youngan came along and they both looked like they wanted to jump us. We'd try to back away, but they just came right to us again. Soon the baby started bearing it's teeth. Brian just made himself big and showed his teeth right back.  The little guy jumped off the railing, but looked like he wanted to challenge, so we hurried by and tried to make some distance between us.

On our last morning, we were waiting at the boat jetty to leave. I saw there was a family of macaques ahead, so I put down my pack to go and take some pictures. The second Brian and I had our packs down and took a step away, the oldest monkey started towards them. Not wanting our bags ripped into, we went back to them. But the monkey wouldn't stop.  Even with shouts, stomps and claps it stood it's ground. Like it thinks everything is theirs! Finally Brian took the tripod off my bag and waved it like a make-shift stick (they seem to respond to this). Not moving, he extended the legs of the tripod longer. Still nothing! This was a bad little  monkey. We were glad when our boat arrived and we could take our bags out of range.

As fun as they were to look at for a couple of days, I don't think I'd want to live with them! They were always coming into the cafeteria trying to steal people's food and squeezing into the  kitchen's windows trying to grab things. Even so, I'm so thrilled to have been able to see these creatures at such close range – even if just for a few days. 

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