My first week in Bali has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Maybe Bali wants me to go home? It’s not all about eating (though the gado gado is pretty awesome), praying (though I almost resorted to it when I thought I was doomed) and loving (though mangosteen tastes a bit like love).

It’s been bouts of falling asleep on the beach to the sound of the waves, with the taste of fresh mangosteen on your lips and the sun slowly pulling all the sweat out of your body interspersed with monkey attacks and bank cards suddenly not working when what you’ve got in your wallet is 1,100 rupiah (about 10 cents).

My arrival in Bali and visa-acquiring went smoothly, although I was quite annoyed at myself for not realising earlier that the guys I thought were security were actually sneaky porters working for tips. I was greeted by my friend Yvonne, who I met in New Zealand. I think the last time I’ve been met at the airport was in 2006. And she had a sign and everything!

She greeted me with a sign, so I gave her TimTams! Such a fun reunion.

She greeted me with a sign, so I gave her TimTams! Such a fun reunion.

First stop: Ubud. We’d booked two nights and ended up staying for five very eventful days.

Our instinct said “stay away!” but our minds said “you’re here, you must enter the monkey forest because it’s well known and mentioned in the Lonely Planet and we need to tick it off the list.” So we passed the ladies selling bananas, paid our ticket and timidly entered the lush green forest.

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Maybe making faces is not the way to appease the monkey gods. It may actually anger them.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary… oh the monkey forest. I’d been warned to stay away from the monkeys and I did my best, but scandalously I was the innocent victim of an unprovoked and vicious and traumatising and, really, uncalled-for, attack.

I was walking along minding my own business when I felt a weight on my purse. And there it was, along for a ride, a little grey monkey full of cheek and evil. I dropped the purse, thinking maybe it would realise there was no food in the there and leave me alone. But no. I was suddenly being growled at (but why?) by one big monkey from one side (so I backed away slowly) and then attacked from the other and bitten on the ankle by a little (but horrible) one. I swore very loudly and unladylikely.

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Some cool things in the monkey forest include sculpted animals that do not bite.

The green-uniformed forest man was a bit rude, telling me I should not leave my bag like that on the floor, but totally unconcerned that I’d been bitten. The wound wasn’t open- just some deep tooth marks. We left pretty quickly after that.

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This may very well be the best photo I’ve ever taken. Too bad it’s of an evil monkey from hell.

The pharmacy we stopped at on the way home was air-conditioned and the pharmacist laughed when I asked if I was going to die from the bite. She said to just put antiseptic on it.

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Aw, so cute! Too bad it’s going to grow up to be an evil grown-up monkey.

I didn’t worry about it until three days later when a sense of doom set it (which is actually a symptom of a box jellyfish sting) and then it was full-blown cold sweats and the overwhelming thought that I don’t want to die and that while rabies would be quite the story, it’s not worth it. Because once you have rabies and are symptomatic, chances of death are 100%, no joke.

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This is how we felt after the monkey forest. Reaction shot #1 (this is going to be the start of a series of reaction shots, just so you know)

So off I went with patient Yvonne in tow to see a doctor. The clinic was surprisingly quiet and the doctor said the monkeys don’t have rabies and that it didn’t look like the skin had been torn, but that I could get the shots “for safe.” And so I did. I have a few more courses of the vaccine to take, but I’m going to look at it as part of the adventure: find the clinics and get shot in different cities around the world!

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Crying into my gelato after my visit to the clinic.

  Looking back, I know I overreacted, but the vaccine has stopped me obsessively looking at water and wondering if I am afraid of it, so I’m glad I ended up getting it.

We got some gelato afterwards (mango and chocolate) and I promise my next posts will be sunnier and full of pretty beach photos.

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