Events, descriptions and personal experience that took place in Bali.

Dung of Darkness – Redux

The journey to Bali in a stolen Indonesian ‘feral’ boat from Broome, Western Australia, took two days.  It was quickened toward the end of day one, when an Australian Navy ship under the guise of Operation Sovereign Borders towed me to the maritime border, unhooked my vessel and steamed back south.  Once the cries of “Tony Abbott says stay out!” subsided, I called back, from my slowly sinking boat: “Thank you!”  Little did they know I’d been tasked by their very own government, albeit confidentially through ASIO, to reach the tourist island off East Java and execute a mission which “had, did and would never exist”.  The mission was simple: an Australian national had set himself up in the Ubud Sacred Monkey Sanctuary as the leader, and in fact king, of a group of monkeys, one white tiger, a kidnapped drop bear and the attractive female host, known only as “Gina”, of failed reality TV show Big Monkey.  It was alleged by ASIO that the aforementioned were all serving as his bodyguards, while he set about recruiting as terrorist foot-soldiers Bali natives disenfranchised by drunken and drug-addled Australian tourists.  Well, I guess that part wasn’t simple.  But my mission was: to kill, with extreme prejudice, the Monkey King of Ubud – otherwise known as King Chewbacca.


While the sun set over the South Kuta peninsula and my all-but-submerged boat disrupted angry surfers riding swell pounding the beach off Nusa Dua, I realised I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d do when confronted with the strange man who had put himself in such an unlikely position.  To be sure, I wasn’t sure what he’d do, either.  I’d been briefed in Broome that a group of Aussie surfers would be waiting the morning after my arrival outside a Nusa Dua hovel of a hotel.  All six of them, tired but wired from earlier salt-water endeavours, were preparing for a day trip of monkey-business in Ubud courtesy of a north-bound bus.  Five of them went along with my cover story of being a fellow wave-rider keen to innocently tag along to the island’s interior.  Their leader, paid both to ensure the others’ cooperation and ask no questions, did just that.  I asked them about a rumoured Balinese monkey king.  A couple spoke in sweaty whispers of surfing primates in the line-up, who would drop in on foreign surfers and scratch or chuck shit at any who dared challenge them.  The leader simply sat with me up the front of the bus, throwing knowing glances to the driver and me while silently sipping his Bintang beer.  “Someone needs to take care of that guy,” said another of their number, who had thus far remained silent.  And whose face was covered in still bleeding and yellowing scratches and smelled of monkey faeces.

Their leader upended the dregs from the can into his mouth just before the JI. Raya Tebongkang Ubud Road became the JI. Raya Kangetan, and we turned right.  Minutes later and in the mid-afternoon, we arrived at the sanctuary’s entrance.  The surfers were unnerved by the screaming monkeys and lone, occasional tiger’s roar audible from outside the forest.  So they left me alone at its gates.  Their leader threw me a Bintang, which I swilled greedily before walking calmly under the leafy, cool canopy.  Almost immediately I could hear unnaturally wind-like sounds then heavy impacts of something moving from tree-to-tree above me.  “But he’s a great man,” the trees muttered.  And I knew it was Garrett, the displaced drop bear.

“He stole you from your family, your home, your country, Garrett,” I whispered to the leaves.

Whoosh, thud.

“But he has good taste in music.”

“He caused you to miss Australia Day 2014, Garrett.”

Whoosh, thud.

“But there are so many Australians in Bali, not least himself.  So I need not leave.”

“He made a mockery of the drop bear myth.  Garrett.”

Whoosh, thud.  The snap of a branch.  I whipped the knife from my waist and lingered it in his furry neck just as he landed, fangs bared, on mine.

“Dare you mock this!?” he rasped, drooling on my shirt.  The smell of imported eucalyptus leaves and stale beer almost had me reeling.

“And you, this?” I calmly pressed the knife further into his coat, drawing both blood and a stifled wince.  “Help me, Garrett, and I will remove you from this equatorial nightmare and back to your sub-tropical home.”

The pacified koala muttered Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and even a little Ball Park Music (Rich People Are Stupid), while the forest sucked us further toward its heart.  And my designated, mysterious foe.  I had to brandish the knife again when he began a Killing Heidi number.  Which silenced him.  He was less startled when intermittent growls and flashes of white started coming from and appearing around us.  “Calm,” he urged as we loped through the undergrowth.  I kept the knife handy.  It seemed Garrett was already midflight, fangs bared, not to mention screaming “Thunderstruck!” (an AC/DC number) when ferns to our left suddenly disgorged an enormous white tiger.  I was still running while the vision of a snarling gray ball of fur attached in combat to a growling white behemoth stuck stubbornly in my mind like a heavy footprint in mud.  Distant dog-like howls and pained roars shook the jungle to my rear.  Sensing my prey was near (a heinous smell was growing stronger), I pressed on.

A steaming pile of monkey shit landed beside me as I began my final approach to the promised royal tree house, adjacent the 14th century-built Holy Monkey Temples.  I glanced upward, only to see an angry cousin of my evolutionary family sitting in a tree, stroking a spear.  A baboon, which surely meant Rafiki the king’s head priest and part-time evil wizard.  Presently I saw the first of the surfers I’d accompanied on the journey from Nusa Dua, beside Rafiki.  Head removed from his body.  Attached to a spike.  Face contorted in a strange mixture of terror and humour.  Sploosh: more shit.  Another monkey: sitting spear stroking in a tree.  Mojo, the thief, royal footrest and, reportedly, dunce.  Horror: another head on a grisly spike.  Another three times this happened, much to my regret (as much due to the smell of the shit, as to the fear of the monkeys, as to the revulsion of the severed heads).  Jo-Jo, the King’s Paw; Timmy, the escaped mental patient; and Simeon, the stuffed monkey.  Until I came face-to face, albeit from ground to tree house-top, with the Monkey King – the severed head of the surfer group’s leader sitting prominently on a final bloody spike at his side.  “Word Journeyer,” he giggled, confident in his elevated position and surrounding of me by his minions.  “What took you so long?”  A rope ladder unfurled from above and landed at my feet.

The Monkey King lay sighing, much less commanding than at the moment I’d first sighted him, upon a hammock after I’d finally scaled the 50-foot ladder.  A woman, brunette, green-eyed and captivating, was sitting on a stool and stroking his head.  Meanwhile, a positively ugly monkey so disfigured by some kind of past attack that she had an extra nostril (whom I took to be Scar Face – the king’s obstinate suitor) jumped madly around the room while throwing her shit at Gina – who calmly ducked each acrimonious attack and maintained her attentions on the king’s throbbing forehead vein.  I was unprepared for such a scene.  “What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Oh, y’know, Word Journeyer,” he started.  “Too much power.  And too many crazy, beautiful, and crazy and not so beautiful, and completely insane and hideous women after me, as a result.”

Gina silently nodded, Scar Face threw another clumsily-aimed crap and I insincerely nodded empathetically.  It was then I noticed in a cobwebbed corner the computer he’d been using to organise his kingdom, recruit his anti-atavistic-Aussie-tourist terrorists, and blog about it.


“You’re a lucky man, Monkey King,” I said, which he responded to by looking wistfully up at Gina, then glancing warily at Scar Face, but ignoring me as I inched toward his outdated Compaq laptop.


“Yeah,” I moved closer.  “People either fear you, or want to be you.”

He nodded.

“But they don’t want to smell like you, sorry.”  Within striking distance.

“Ah, that’s ok.  The plumbing in this tree house isn’t. . . .

I plunged the knife repeatedly, viciously into the laptop’s screen and keyboard.  Damaging it beyond repair.  Chewbacca screamed and struggled in vain out of the hammock, Gina silently held her right hand over her mouth; Scar Face threw what was surely her last shit for a while at me.  I ducked, grabbed a vine hooked inside the window, and swung out of it into a blood-red tropical sunset barely penetrating the sacred forest.

Categories: Australia, Bali, BIg Monkey, Humor, love, Relationships, Romance, television shows, travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ubud markets = bamboo hat and a =)

Ubud Green2IF YOU travel to the Ubud Market with plenty of money in your wallet, allow me to offer a blog post of warning. Keep track of your valuables.

The market is a maze to keep the visitor dazed. It’s a concrete trap – disguised with bamboo and exotic textiles. The odor of an uncountable amount  of stale scented offerings boxed in little bamboo squares encourage you to ask about the items on sale, as a way to distract yourself.

“What’s that?” you’ll point, and the owner of one of the thousand cluttered stores will grin with blackened teeth, and say, “baggy golden pants. Look good on you, yes? 100,000 Rupiah!”

I only went to the market today,  to buy a toothbrush (as part of my 24 things before I hit 24). But I came out with a bamboo hat, golden baggy pants, a parasol, a Bintang singlet, a fake prada bag, sunglasses, a wooden rice spoon, and a sari. I think I spent more than 650,000 rupiah but it’s a bit hard to tell.

When I went back to the forest the monkeys leaped on me to see what I got. They were disappointed.

“I thought you were going to the DVD store to get Gossip Girl,” Abu howled.

“Shut up!” I said. “I got you a rice spoon.”

“Aw sweet.”

“You bought the hat for 60,000!” Chompy smirked. “I could have got the barter down to 10,000.”

There are morals to this story. Buy a toothbrush before you get gum disease. Keep track of how much money you take into the market. Take a local with you. Work out how much you’re actually paying for something. Don’t let the cheap currency fool you.


Monkey King.

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Ask for nothing but wisdom…

Mother and child

Copyright by Carol Boaden.

HAIL to the King Chewbacca Von Wookie, may God preserve him.

Today, two monkey women came to the King Chewbacca, fighting over a baby. Each claimed it was theirs.

I decreed the monkey youngling should be chopped in half, desperately hoping the real monkey mother would give up her rights so her precious would be saved.

After the monstrous deed had been committed, a third monkey climbed up the tree, wailing that somebody had stolen her baby.

I feel like a monster.

Categories: Bali, Humor, religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How we’re going to steal more from tourists

WE SET up a store outside the front gates of Monkey Forest Reserve. There was a wild debate on what we should call it, and a crazy chase through the treetops, until Jo-Jo suggested, ‘Place you can buy your crap back.’

I told the monkeys that instead of wasting time on stealing sunglasses, lip balm and bananas from tourists that we were bored of anyway, we could target passports, wallets and cameras. We’d more than triple our profit this way. They were skeptical of the idea at first, but realised I was king for a reason.

Our thieving strategies require speed:

Like a ninja! You won't see us coming.

Like a ninja! You won’t see us coming.

And stealth:

Camouflage.  Your wallet is mine.

Camouflage. Your wallet is mine.

The store made 2 million Rupiah on the first day.We would have made more, but the idea got fixed in some of the thieving monkeys heads that they themselves should get a portion of the money they earned, instead of it all going to the royal coffers. There’s no honour among thieves, I guess. I tried to introduce the idea of socialism, that I get 100%,  they benefit from my 100%, and we’d all smoke coconut bongs later and laugh about the day’s work. They laughed right then and there and said the idea was unrealistic. I told them they were ungrateful, idiotic guttersnipes with lice. And then, would you believe it, they tackled each other to comb through each others’ hair for delicacies.

I have dreams of using the money and turning the place into a fun park. Through this we will buy out Ubud legitimately, slowly replacing the rice fields with cash crops. Or sunflowers, if they can grow in the climate.

So if a monkey in Ubud steals your wallet, camera, or passport, you can blame me for that. Send all comments of hate here. You won’t get your items back, but I think you’ll feel better.

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Do monkeys go to heaven?

LETS suggest something entirely ridiculous. Let’s suggest you accidentally burnt down half of the Ubud Monkey Forest after a monkey onesie party went horribly wrong.

You sob out a “why did this happen!” as you toast marshmellows from the top of a burning tree. Was it the drinking too much alcohol and fire twirling at a party of monkeys, with guest names including “Jo-Jo” and “Mojo” and “Rocky Balboa”? Maybe, but it occurs to you that since becoming monkey king, you have neglected church attendance.

You used your Sundays to sleep in. Or worse. You actually enjoyed it by watching AFL/NRL/football/bowls and complaining about the play on Facebook. You got the TV working by throwing the extension lead onto the nearest powerline. Classy.

Adding to the ridiculousness, let’s also say you don’t go to sleep last Saturday night, because of overwhelming guilt. Let’s say this guilt motivates you to Google the location of the only church in Ubud.

This actually happened to you? Wow. Coincidence. It happened to me.

Jo-Jo was intrigued by the concept of church. She wanted us all to go. There was no way I was taking 193 monkeys to church, one of them being an irritable Chompy with a hangover. If it was a Pentacostal I might have, for the hell of it, but not a Baptist.

“Why not, Chewey?” Jo-Jo asked.

“Church not for monkeys,” I said.

At long last! Evolution and religion break bread together.

At long last! Evolution and religion break bread together.

But they were so desperate, they tailed me to church. They stalked me by taking 49 taxis and the lead taxi told Wayan the driver to “follow that moped!” The other taxi drivers were ordered to “follow that taxi, who is following the other taxi, who is following the other taxi following the moped.”

I enjoyed church, in a bored sort of way. I didn’t know the monkeys were all sitting behind me until Chompy put his hand up at a crucial time to dedicate his life to Christ.

So we were there for ages as the pastor taught him how to find stuff in the bible. Jo-Jo became so impatient she thought it would be fun to help herself to the wine in the little communion glasses.


Categories: Bali, Humor, religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Manifesto: Gloriously majestic

THERE is no point being a dictator king unless you have a manifesto written. All the great kings have them apparently. And heaven forbid I be seen to be unfashionable.

Scribes have recorded my spoken laws. There are seven of them. Why seven? Because seven is a powerful number. Seven stands for the number of Harry Potter books (forget the movies), seven stands for the number of Star Wars movies when the next one comes out (animations don’t count!), and seven stands for the number of rules I was able to rip off out of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Let this manifesto be shared on the blogosphere as:


1. Whatever goes upon two legs is either the Monkey King, an enemy, or a tourist. It’s difficult to tell the difference sometimes, so avoid the compulsion to bite until after asking “who goes there!” A real enemy worth his salt usually acknowledges that he is a bit of a dick.  

2. Whatever has four legs or wings is not likely to have a valid driver’s licence.

Sasha web

3.  Monkeys should always wear clothes in the presence of the Monkey King. Suits, ties, fezzes, monocles or bowler hats are advised.

4. Next time, if you insist on stealing the Monkey King’s mattress and are trying to lug it onto your home tree so you can sleep on it, at least have the decency to use sheets. No eating in the bed. You’ve got the rest of the tree to do that.

5. Make sure you have enough Bintang to share if you’re drinking in public.

Plenty to share: Copyright of The Bali Bird.

Plenty to share: Copyright of The Bali Bird.

6. No monkey should kill another monkey under the age of two.

7. All monkeys are equal. For those who did not go to school, this means that:

one monkey = one monkey.

One woman monkey = one man monkey.

Two monkeys with missing limbs = two non-mutilated monkeys.

One mass murdering monkey = one good church going monkey OR a respectable Hindu priest monkey.

I think I accidentally used basic mathematics to highlight gender, religious and disability equality. Genius. 

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How to win a somersault competition against a monkey

Sorry!: We didn't have any photos of monkeys climbing a toilet bowl, so we just threw in one of a monkey eating a banana instead. Enjoy.

Sorry!: We didn’t have any photos of monkeys climbing a toilet bowl, so we just threw in one of a monkey eating a banana instead. Enjoy.

I WAS part of a group of university students who travelled to Bali. When I became monkey king, I forgot all about them.

We were supposed to leave Bali in a few more days. I was curious as to what my human friends might have been up to, so I brought the troupe of 193 monkeys over to their villa to pay my respects.

Sally, my lecturer, had given me up for lost! The last she’d seen of me was in the Kuta, asking a male prostitute what the time was, and she assumed that “Kuta has him now”. She planned to rip off the plot of Hangover 2 to explain to the university and to my family how they would never see me again. The official story was that after I died from an overdose of coke, they hid me in the freezer. Then couldn’t find me again.

Anyway, she was a bit annoyed I hadn’t told her I’d been promoted to King of the Monkeys earlier. She also asked me to put some clothes back on. Jo-Jo rifled through one of the girls’ suitcases for some decent swimmers so she could use the pool and look out over the rice paddies. The girl who owned the suitcase busted Jo-Jo and told her to “$#@! off (insert four letter word of your choice).

Well, nobody talks to Jo-Jo that way. She started a riot and all my uni friends hid. The guys barricaded themselves in their bathroom, Antonio trying to ward off the “bloody monsters” with his guitar. Jason was trying to film what he described as a “riot monkey survival documentary” but then one of the monkeys climbed up the pipes into the toilet bowl and, well, tried to drown him.

The others were contemplating which martial art would work best to take out a monkey’s heart but then someone farted and all the monkeys and human guys laughed it off. So they shook hands, apologised, and played a game of strip poker.

“Me sorry.”

“How the hell did you fit up that toilet bowl? Respect.”

“Ha ha ha ha.”

Emile (human) and Jo-Jo (monkey)  had a competition to see who could do the most somersaults while drunk. I tried to make Emile see some reason, to warn her she couldn’t possibly win as she slapped down five hundred thousand Rupiah. Jo-Jo, with a pair of Julie’s bra’s strangely wrapped around her head, managed a triple somersault. Emile won, but only because she fooled the monkeys into believing that falling on the arse was an advanced trick. The more drunken girls used the distraction to smuggle a random monkey into a suitcase.

Someone turned on the music and we all got involved with the monkey, the happy dance, and the robot.I think we all passed out on the cushions to the sound of the chicken dance, and drunk on Bintang. I believe a few neighbours complained, but Chompy bit them.

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Chewbacca is king


THIS morning, the monkeys gathered around the majesty of my naked personage and I ordered them to address me as ‘King Chewbacca.’To enforce this idea, I taught them the wookie growl, and this is to become the Ubud Monkey Forest party anthem.

Interesting fact about Ubud monkeys #1: they can write. They stood in a long line, which ended at the roots of the tree, to show off to their king what was likely to be pages of a masterpiece, beginning with ‘It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.’ I prodded the smuggest monkey off the branch with my sceptre because unfortunately I couldn’t understand the noble Balinese language, and they made me feel stupid.

Some monkeys can write in English. Abu wrote this manuscript about a bespectacled boy who discovers he’s a wizard.

The plot is very familiar. I suspect he’s plagiarised Spiderman.

Jo-Jo even speaks a few words. Mostly ‘Get the bloody hell away boss man. You don’t eat my tail,’ which could possibly be a token of respect in Balinese.


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Hail Monkey King: 3/05/13

Photo by Carol Boaden

Monkey police: “Sorry sir. Please strip off your clothes so you can be subjected to a thorough search.”                 Photo by Carol Boaden. 



Two weeks in Bali and I became the king of Monkey Forest Reserve. I don’t quite know how it happened. In my 23 years, I’d been the poor white boy. Not too ugly, almost handsome. Quiet sometimes but ridiculous and fumbling when I was nervous. Maybe it was this quality that endeared me to the monkeys.

They actually mauled me when I got through the gate. Took my shoes off. Stripped off my sarong. Flicked off my pink thong with a hoot. Sniffed them. Perverts. I tried to tell them I had a good reason for wearing lingerie, that I wasn’t particularly satisfied in them as a fashion choice. It’s just I had ran out of clean underpants, even if I wore them inside out. I had to ninja a pair from an unsuspecting girl who happened to share my villa.

They examined my body and picked through my waist length hair while the Japanese tourists surrounded the scene and took photos of what seemed to be the biggest drug bust of the monkey police.

“I swear I don’t know how that got in there,” I insisted to the biggest monkey as she showed me what she’d found. She shrugged and passed it on to a smaller monkey who took it to what was likely to be the evidence tree. She pointed at herself and said “Jo-Jo” and then stepped in front of me with a clipboard and a pen and started ticking a list on the piece of paper. Craning upwards from my position on the ground, I was able to peak at the bottom line of the criteria.

A willingness to run around naked.

After a bit I realised they were friendly, once they’d carried me into the forest, although they weren’t exactly careful where they put their hands. They somehow got me up the tallest tree where a wooden stool was tied to a dangerously thin branch. I sat down, the branch swaying up and down until it got used to my weight. Then I was handed a carved stick as long as my hair. I also got to wear a cool crown fashioned from banana peel and coconut rind.

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Everybody Rides Mopeds

Turning a thin corner to see the rice fields stretch ahead to the palms in the distance, or cycling down a busy (suburban?) street marked by high walls and lazy dogs are experiences that free you from the tension of hotels and taxi rides and being penned in at the markets.

But it’s even better riding a moped. You will see the real people and the ordinary sights (which is what you should be chasing) without being tricked into going where the taxi-drivers want you to spend money.

In Bali, everybody rides a scooter. The little five-year old taking his little sister to where the Balinese kids hang out. The grandmother taking her children, nieces, mother, the pet chicken, to work. The only exception are sheepish tourists who stare at the legion of scooters on the main roads and say to their partner, “no thanks, I want to live.”

In Ubud I walk on Monkey Forest Road and a man on the pavement asks me to check his scooters out. I’m interested, so he takes me down an alleyway and shows me the collection of Hondas. I didn’t know how to ride one, but at 50,000 Rupiah (5-7ish dollars) a day, I think it’s a great deal.

The paperwork is easy, they didn’t even care I couldn’t provide my passport – as long as I promised to return the next day with the details. They also weren’t bothered that I didn’t have my international license. Just be careful of being pulled over by the traffic police (I’ll post that story in future).

The man gives me a helmet and leads me to a pink scooter (I didn’t yet have the ability of bartering) and pushes me onto the busy road as I’m freaking out …he blocks a truck and I hold down the throttle and I gain momentum…and I’m free!

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