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M0NKEY BUSINESS


The fact that there are two Monkey Forests in Bali occasionally causes confusion, although they are some distance apart and vastly differen in character.

The "big" Monkey Forest at Sangeh boasts of two rival packs of nimble and aggressive monkeys who have a low tolerance to tourists and regard them merely as the local version of meals on wheels. More enthusiasm is generated if the tourist is carrying a camera or handbag which can be snatched out of an unsuspecting hand, to reappear seconds later dangled tauntingly from the top of a tall tree.

By comparison, the inhabitants of the "little" Monkey Forest on the outskirts of Ubud, while being conspicuously lacking in haloes, are less exhuberant, contenting themselves with filching the odd cob of corn from a visitor's pocket. Most times they can by
seen chattering softly to themselves, as they swing through the rustling forest foliage, or sit on topmost boughs, dark silhouettes against a brilliant sky.
However, there was once a monkey, named Bojog, who was noticeably different.

Legend neglects to mention which Forest he came from, but we have it on good authority that he was more than a little disenchanted with his lifestyle.

Exactly why, he couldn't rightly tell. But when he heard his grandpappy waffling on about the "good old days", he reflected uneasily that to date he had not even one adventure worth telling to his grandkids.

It was all very well, he admitted, to swing from branch to branch through the trees. This toned up the muscles no end, and
was great for showing off to the girlfriend, but as a year-in year-out version, it did tend to get just the teeniest bit boring.

Sure, it was good clean fun to make a daily raid on the warung at the edge of the Forest. A handful of toffees and a few ricecakes not to mention the odd banana snatched on the way out - made a welcome change of diet

. Then too, there was always the up and coming crop of young monkeys to discipline. Would they never learn that when their elders were taking their mid-morning nap, they did not want their tails tweaked or their fur searched for vermin No matter how sharp the cuffs and strong the language - next day they were at it again.

You couldn't altogether claim it was an empty life, because you didn't really lack entertainment. To climb affectionately onto a tourist's well-dressed shoulder and pee discreetly down his new shirt was always a sure pick-me-up for a fit of the blues.

But there was no doubt that the monkeys were missing out on something - and what they lacked was culture. Yes, it was humiliating - but it was true. Of all the forest creatures, they alone hd no community effort.

You only had to look at the herons to see the difference. Morning and night these birds would form a graceful ballet in the sky as they flew to and from the rice paddies.

And talking of paddies, even the lowly frogs who had been skilful enough to dodge the probing beaks of the herons during the day, turned on a boisterous ear-splitting chorus every evening.
While, of course, the myriad birds forever flitting through 'title Forest, united to greet the dawn, with what could only be described as an operatic overature.

Well then, what to do If all other species had some type of cultural outlet, why not the monkeys But whenever he approached any Of the tribe with his ideas, they commenced whispering behind their hands and sidling off. This treatment can make a chap feel rejected.

So, it was not surprising when one day Bojog found a goat nibbling at a patch of weeds near the Forest, he lost no time