Batu Caves – A Time To Monkey Around

How many times has my mother dragged me to a pond to feed ducks? Short answer; too many times. Once you’ve fed one duck you’ve fed ‘em all.

Feeding monkeys, however, is a different story.

When they walk right up to you and hold your hand for a piece of bread it is magical. Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur was where I first experienced the up-close and personal magic of monkeys.

M&Ms - Matthew and Mnkey

M&Ms – Matthew and Monkey

Batu Caves is a sacred Hindu temple built inside amazingly large caves which are infested with the monkeys.

Mom at Batu Caves.

Mom at Batu Caves.

These little buggers are everywhere – on the giant staircase leading to statues of several Hindu Gods, on the limestone cavern walls and on every tourists not paying attention.

I was one of those tourists.

Thomas and I managed to get ahead of our family and started feeding the monkeys small bits of bread we brought for the visit. However, one of these monkeys didn’t want any small pieces; He wanted the whole nine yards, the big enchilada, the ribeye steak. This greedy guy charged me from behind, stole the bag of bread and scampered off. Luckily for us he only took a grand total of one piece before dropping the bag a short distance from where I was standing.

I was shocked by his aggression. After all, I’m used to feeding ducks and they don’t act like this!

No worries. I ran to the dropped bread bag, retrieved it and quickly darted back to my family. I didn’t want to tell them what had just happened, how I had been a victim of a monkey hit and run, so I acted cool while stuffing the bread under my shirt.

At the very top cavern in the Batu Caves there was a shrine where worshippers can make an offering and receive a traditional Hindu blessing. Our family asked the pujari, a Hindu priest, to bless us with safety and good travels. He did and gave us a portion of our offering now blessed, which was to be eaten at home. The offering we carried away consisted of bananas in a coconut shell and flowers for decoration.

Offering asking for safety and good travels.

Offering asking for safety and good travels.

What we did not know was that the monkeys were watching. And waiting. As soon as we left the shrine, Mom, who was carrying the offering, was jumped by a monkey who stole her offering. She screamed. And swore. I laughed.

My opinion of monkeys jumped around that day. It went from apprehension, to love, to sadness. Now I have a love/hate relationship toward monkeys.

I think I’ll stick to feeding ducks.

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