Monday, May 24, 2010

Our Monkeys of Sri Lanka

A Majestic Monkey Sitting Atop Our Restaurant in Kandy
Our first encounter with the monkeys of Sri Lanka was an unconscious, unplanned one.  We spent our first three nights at a beautiful resort in Ahungalla where we had an ocean view from our third floor room.  The sound of the ocean was so relaxing, so we left the balcony door open to lull us to sleep.  The next morning, when we awoke we found that the eight dinner rolls we had wrapped up in a cloth napkin were gone with only two small rolls left on the floor - no napkin in sight.  I first asked Brett if he had been really hungry in the night, but he only looked confused.  When we asked some of the hotel employees if it could have been a monkey they were certain that a few monkeys had helped themselves to our leftovers.  They warned us not to leave the door open again.  I'm just glad they didn't decide to take my wedding ring that was sitting on the night stand.  Monkey Bandits!

Our second monkey encounter was while we were on a river safari near Ahungalla.  Our guide stopped at a fish hatchery to show us all the different kinds of fish, but I quickly noticed a small monkey sitting on the floor of the caretaker's quarters.  The floating hatchery was out in the middle of a lake, so I was hesitant to get out of the boat and walk on the planks for fear of falling into the lake and ending our fun safari - until I saw the monkey.  I was the first one out of the boat. 

I didn't stop to look at the fish but went straight for the monkey and asked to hold him.  He was as light as a feather and so cuddly.  We were told that the monkey had been "rescued" from the jungle because it didn't have a mother.  I don't know if I believe that, but we loved the little guy for as long as we could.  He cuddled right into my neck and didn't want to let go.  Abbey held him next and then Brett.  I didn't want to let him go.  Not even the baby crocodile that Brett held next interested me more.  I almost cried when we left the hatchery.  We let the monkey go back to his corner where he was tied to a post.  The smile on the owner's face didn't reassure me that he was in good hands.  Holding that little guy was probably one of the highlights of the trip.

Sweetheart Bear Monkey

In Kandy we stayed at a beautiful hotel called Amaya Hills and tempted some wild monkeys onto our balcony that overlooked the gorgeous green valley.  We strategically placed some bananas and grapes outside and felt certain we would get some response.  Our hotel room seemed to be in the trees because of the way the hotel was built into the mountain. 

They call the Amaya Hills Hotel the palace in the hills.

I told Brett and Abbey that the first person to spot a monkey would get $10.  About fifteen minutes later Abbey was yelling, "I see a monkey, I see a monkey!" We ran to the windows and sure enough there was one, then two, then a handful of monkeys munching on our offerings. 

I had to open the doors to see if we could get any closer.  They all froze when I stepped out onto the balcony and then started to move down the ledge of the hotel.  My disappointment didn't last though because I guess the word had gotten out, and there were more monkeys coming to put in their orders.  I quickly grabbed some more bananas and Abbey and I got to hand deliver the goods.  It was amazing. 

The monkeys didn't stick around to tell us how grateful they were.  They just went to find their next handout.  Ungrateful Monkeys! 

This guy even stuck his tongue out at us!

They just didn't want to stick around and socialize.  What an ungrateful bunch!

Our last monkey adventure happened on the last day of our vacation.  The morning had been full of visits to a handicraft shop, a batik factory, and a silk store.  After a busy morning we were ready for a nice lunch, so our driver Erickson took us to a place near the silk store. 

Can you find the monkeys in this picture?

Again, it was Abbey who spotted the monkeys as we were finishing our meal.  I rushed to the window with the camera and could see several monkeys crossing the street and climbing the building where we were.  They were climbing up to get to the open restaurant areas that had no people but the remnants of past feasting.  I took some far away shots, but wondered if I could get closer. 


So Abbey and I walked/ran to the lower level and there they were - the furriest bus boys I had ever seen.  One was involved with a leftover beer and another was looking for crumbs.  Some of the monkeys saw me and Abbey slowly making our way down the stairs so they froze on the edge of the wall.  As you can see, we got pretty close because they weren't too fazed by our presence.  One big guy let me touch his back, but that was as close as I got.  Abbey was a little more cautious than I was.                                                                                       

They didn't want us crashing their cleanup party, so the monkeys made their way up the walls and onto the roof.  By then the commotion was catching and some Japanese people in the restaurant were also snapping pictures.  Over the stairway between levels of the restaurant there was a see-through plastic breezeway covering and Erickson got a kick out of pounding it with his fist whenever a monkey would pass over.  They would jump pretty high from the surprise and we laughed.  The gathering was over as quickly as it had started and the monkeys made their way off the roof onto the telephone wires and into the neighborhood. 

                                                                   Escaping the humans

                                                            On the roof of the restaurant
           This guy is about to get a surprise from our driver Erickson.

Now they are off to terrorize the neighborhood!
Erickson told us that the monkeys are not very welcome in the area.  They like to get on top of people's houses ( which are really just shacks) and shake the roofs until they can lift them up and get inside to raid the refrigerators and cupboards.  I can see why the locals don't get real excited to see them in their midst.  Erickson also told us that one time when he was in the very same restaurant, sitting at the same table we were sitting at, he saw a monkey grab a lady's phone when she set it down on the bus stop bench.  A crowd quickly gathered and someone called the police because they didn't know how they were going to get the phone away from the monkey who was almost mocking the people from a nearby tree.  The policeman was experienced with this situation so he simply asked for the woman's phone number and called her phone.  When the phone rang the monkey was so startled that he dropped it.  Luckily it landed in the sand and it was fine - problem solved!  I guess that kind of problem solving is a must for a Sri Lankan police officer.  Poor monkey though - he probably just wanted to text his cousin in Madagascar.

Unfortunately for Abbey we left all the monkeys in Sri Lanka.  I don't think they would have liked Doha anyway - not enough shakeable roofs or telephone poles, not to mention trees!


terahreu said...

Such great pictures! Did you enjoy Amatya Hills? It is quite a hull up there, but it looks like the monkey encounter was worth it all.

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Amber said...