Weren’t monkeys supposed to be afraid of water? This one certainly wasn’t. I wasn’t even off the pier when it appeared, rather expertly, from behind the beaten old handrail, ripping the plastic bag from my grip and tearing itself a huge, greedy mouthful of bread that I had bought fresh from the bakers that morning. A few other monkeys arrived on the scene, hoping to grab some remnants of the food but it was clear who was in charge here, and there was no way he was giving up his free meal.
At least with my only supply of food forcefully taken from me, by an animal a quarter of my size admittedly, I could relax somewhat, safe in the knowledge that they would now leave me alone and focus their attention on the other people on the island, who now gripped their food to their chests in desperate fear.
I allowed myself a few, smug moments to observe as, first, a large Japanese group that had been feeding monkeys moments before were now squealing and cowering as a large group circled them. Then a young English backpacker from my boat was having her bag ransacked, the monkeys discarding anything that didn’t crunch into tiny pieces as they sank their teeth into it.
Of course I could have been the ultimate gentleman and helped the poor girl out, but I had already been victim to one attack. Plus, I’m a coward.
Chuckling to myself at the other people’s misfortune I made my way away from the bedlam at the pier towards some forestry inland that I hoped would offer some respite from the monkeys.
Which it did, for the most part. But on my return, just before reaching the pier, still in the wooded area so know was around to help me (I know, I know, karma and all-that), a small, ape-like creature moved across my eye-line. If it wasn’t the same creature from the the pier, then it certainly had the same menacing look. What was worse it wasn’t alone, it had brought a few mates along to join the party and they made their way towards me in unison.
One of the smaller monkeys clambered onto a rock behind me, waited, then launched itself onto my backpack, desperately trying to wrench it free from my back. This sent the others into a frenzy as they scented the kill. Or at least a free meal.
Reaching down I grabbed my flimsy, foam flip-fop and began waving wildly at the monkey on my back, hoping it would scare it enough to free it. Which amazingly it did. This spontaneous technique allowed me enough time to make a run for the clearing, the monkeys considering giving chase but giving up, probably out of pity.
As I left the forestry and reached the pier, dripping sweat, wielding the flip-flop above my head, I heard a chorus of laughs. There sat the Japanese group relaxing on some benches, not a monkey in-sight.