television shows

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

Magic faraway lands

THE monkeys have lately been preparing for Tree Force, a renovation show in which the monkeys must build us a tree house.

They’ve been showing me the plans.

My throne room will be inside the trunk of the tree. I will sit my arse on the finest red cushions. Some of the fools brought up maroon ones, and so they lost points at the end of the episode. The video camera even showed me with a frowning face to prove I was unhappy.

The throne will have lots of swords sticking out of it, so that it’s spiky. I’ve been told by the King’s hand, Jo-Jo, that swords decorating a throne is the in thing this season. But we’ll soften the ends by sticking on marshmellows and bananas.

This will serve two reasons. First, being king is hungry work. And second, sharp edges and monkeys will cause the workplace health and safety lady to faint out of the tree and onto the concrete path below (oh, what’s that? The concrete is a hazard?! We’ll have to move the trees away from the path? Damn you. Has this world of workplace health gone completely mad?).

There will be a slide, spiralling down the inside of the tree. I am insistent on this. The monkeys are working on the tunnel now, but seem to be using the pickaxes on each other more than on the wood. I am also making the monkeys build a giant ladder that will stretch above the clouds, which every dumb monkey knows summons magic faraway lands.

tree house drawing

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Tree Force

AFTER spending a few weeks with Dad and six monkeys in a fancy villa for Christmas holidays, I’m finally back in the monkey forest. Dad dropped us off at the forest gates this morning and threw each monkey out individually.

“You have all been horrible,” he said to us as he rubbed Mojo’s bite mark on his forearm. “Good riddance,” he said as he slammed the door. The car screeched away.

Rafiki started crying. This was surprising. He puts on such an arrogant persona, hates everyone, that I hadn’t noticed until then that he almost worshiped my dad. Later, I heard him mutter that my dad should be the king, not me.

I was relaxing in my favourite tree after ordering one of the monkeys to bring me an ice tea, when Gina climbed up the ladder. She didn’t look happy to be in the forest. But her boss had ordered her to come and tell me in person – because I smashed my phone after Gina and I used Bitstrip photos to argue – that the television executives were hoping to use the monkeys for another television show. A BETTER television show than the last one, which is a relief because Big Monkey was a terrible idea.

This show will be called Tree Force.

So right now the monkeys are being taught by professional renovators the basics how to build and renovate. The idea is that the monkeys will work together in pairs to build rooms around the tree while they bicker and squabble and use power tools to hurt each other (which apparently makes good TV).  Supposedly, in four weeks we’ll have a super tree house.

Maybe like this!

But I have my doubts.

Have the producers forgotten these are just damn monkeys? What madness is this? Monkeys can’t build tree houses. I wouldn’t even trust the monkeys with a hammer.

At the moment Mojo is at the foot of the tree, working on the front porch. I just hope he knows what he’s doing with that chainsaw.

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Big Monkey listed in top five worst Indonesian TV shows being aired

LAST night the monkey-mates all played pirates and after an epic battle, three of the monkeys were ordered to jump off a branch.

Photograph taken at Pulua Ubin, Singapore.

Ordered to walk the branch.

Great. This show has lasted a week and out of fifteen monkeys, we’ve only got ten left.

I got to say on TV, in a booming voice;“Fifteen monkeys climbed up the tree. Only ten monkeys are still in the tree.”

That’s a reference to the movie JAWS.

Or since this involves monkeys instead of sharks, should I say…PAWS?

No, I should never say that. In fact – I should delete that line. But what the hell, I’m going to let you read it.

Gina (a damn fine woman) spoke to me this afternoon!  (I’ll get to first base before you know it). She said that Big Monkey was mentioned in an entertainment magazine. It was in a list of five worst TV shows currently being aired. We get about 450 viewers per half an hour episode. If it doesn’t pick up soon the show is going to be cancelled.

In fact – it will be worse than cancelled. It will be deleted from the TV Stations archives and it will never show to DVD. Oh man, I hope this will happen soon.

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Big Monkey: Who does Simeon’s fealty belong to?

MACCA is the first monkey to be evicted from the Big Monkey tree.

He was told he had to leave the tree about seven seconds ago. Macca is sharing hugs and kisses with the other monkeys.

GetAttachment (18)I might be cynical but that’s a lot of drama considering he only met most of them less than a week ago.

Just give me a second (Monkey King kicks Macca off the branch). Good. We’re done with that. The other monkeys wave at Macca – who stares up at us forlornly. Then shouts “you suck Monkey King! I think you broke my tail bone.”

Well land on your feet next time, you stupid monkey. I did you a favour. I got you out of this show faster than you had the capacity to get out yourself.

I watch the other monkeys climb down to a lower branch as Macca goes off to light a fire on the other side of the forest.  The only one not moving is Simeon. He watches me type this into WordPress.

Simeon is a stuffed monkey toy. It seemed exciting television to bring in a fake monkey toy – and it is, actually. He’s always getting the air time. Mostly because the other monkeys whinge quietly to him about the other monkeys.

And the few viewers that watch are fascinated. Who does Simeon’s loyalties belong to? Because the monkeys have split into two factions. The leaders are renegade Timmy the insane monkey – against Blazer the proboscis monkey.

Most of them are scared of Timmy – and the only two who would openly defy him are Mojo (which he threw off the tree in a Mexican wrestling match days ago), and Blazer. I reckon Timmy might get nominated for eviction for next week (argh! Is this show lasting that long!) but the cameraman tells me that he doesn’t think  Timmy will get evicted by viewers.

He, Simeon, and Gina the anchorwoman are the only things attracting any viewership.

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My fun filled day as Big Monkey


Tension: pretending not to be a couple.

I HATE this TV show. Why? Let yesterday’s itinerary answer the rhetoric question.

7.30am: Woken up because Cazza (Orangutan) enters the throne room. Cazza is in a relationship with Robert. To make things interesting in the tree, the couple have to pretend they aren’t going out.

It’s been tough for her. Tougher for me because I had to listen to an orang-utan complain for two hours and five minutes about how Robert ignoring her is hurtful. TV editors will cut her moans into two minutes and I’m sure the end result will make great TV.

9.36am: Cazza finally shuts up and goes back down to breakfast. She gets angry at Robert for not saving her any eggs Benedict. “What?” he mouths with his fork still in his mouth. “It’s not like we’re going out or anything?”

She screams in frustration and scares most of the other monkey-mates onto the toilet branch.

11am: I watch the monkeys play Uno. Charles accidentally craps onto the deck of cards from a higher branch. “That’s why we allocate a branch for the toilet!” Blazer (Proboscis monkey) yells.

12.30: Super hot TV presenter Gina walks into the forest for a few minutes of cameo. “Hi Gina!” I shout at her. “It’s me! Monkey King!”

“Damn, we have to do the take again,” I think I heard her say. She refuses to look at me, even when I blow her a kiss.

2.15pm: I commission monkey citizens not in the tree to stalk Gina. Does she have a boyfriend? What does she like to do? Why does she find me repulsive? Answers to these would be awesome.

4pm: I tell the monkey-mates there will be an eviction in a few days. Monkeys groan dramatically, conveniently forgetting on camera that this should be no surprise.

4.30pm: Monkey-mates come up one-by-one and tell me who they nominate. Timmy the wild monkey threatens to stab me with his flick knife if he gets nominated. I laugh awkwardly. Gina gives me a thumbs up from near the fountain. “Great TV if you can aggravate him,” she mouths.

6pm: I announce the monkeys nominated for eviction; Charles (no surprise considering his Uno stunt), Macca, Bessie, and Blazer. The number to call to choose which monkey to evict will be revealed in the TV show ads.

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Day 1 on Big Monkey

Big Monkey LIVE! aired on TV last night. 15 monkeys were introduced (some I’ve told you about in an eaMonkey-mates wait on the "front porch" of the tree to see who they are competing against. rlier post).

There weren’t many members in the audience so we had to pay some taxi drivers to wave names on pieces of cardboard. In fact, I believe they are the same ones they use at Denpasar airport which makes no sense because we don’t have monkeys on our show called “Rocky” and “Akmal” or “Made”.

We also had a soundtrack of clapping and laughter, so I think on air this show looks extremely popular (though ratings say otherwise).

One by one the monkeys climbed the tree where they waited nervously for the rest of their yet unknown monkey-mates and rivals.

Not much happened except for when Timmy was introduced. He’s insane- forced onto the show to win his freedom. He threw Mojo off the tree after they began an unscheduled Lucha Libre match – complete with colourful wrestling masks they smuggled onto the show despite the rigorous searches.

Mojo left the tree (even though he was thrown off with a seismic toss) meaning he has been disqualified.

The only other good thing about the show was that I got to see Gina again. Admittedly it was from a distance. I’m not allowed near her. Gina is the TV presenter. So gorgeous that she should be locked away in a temple somewhere.

She stood at the base of the tree and announced the monkeys and narrated their actions in the tree. I was impressed by how well she recognised illegal wrestling moves.

Day 001: I think I’m in love with Gina. I’m already sick of the monkeys. More on Gina in later days.

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Big Brother rip-off: Monkey-mates introduced

WE BEGIN filming Big Monkey! LIVE show on Friday night, to be aired on an obscure television station across Indonesia!  I would tell you the time and the program, but really that should be the promoter’s job (for more information as to why we’re ripping Big Brother you should click the word exploitation).

Tonight we REVEAL some of the fifteen monkeys that will be stuck on the same tree as me. It is exciting! Secrets about the monkeys will be REVEALed. I’m banned by contract to tell you to much about them. In fact, I can only REVEAL six of the monkeys that will be joining us on the condition that I use the word “REVEAL” four times in the blog post. R word aside, we can now move on to describing:

Proboscis monkey.


It is said this proboscis monkey has been shipped from a hardcore Malaysian prison zoo specially for this show. Blazer is reputed to have hospitalised several zoo visitors just for laughing at his nose. A 14-year-old boy said “look at it! The monkey has a penis!” and he was never seen again.

Probably because he went back to America, where he lived. Still, Blazer is sensitive about his nose and it will be interesting to see how he will fare among the other monkeys, who are quick to point out another’s physical features.

pashing orang-utans-1CAZZA and ROBERT: Orangutan couple Cazza and Robert are taking holiday from Singapore Zoo to be on the show. In fact, this orangutan couple will be part of this show’s surprise twist among the other monkey mates. They are married, but they must fool the other monkeys into thinking they are single! If they can’t, they will be evicted. Can they take their paws off one another long enough to win the show?

GetAttachment (18)

SIMEON: This stuffed monkey is a professional travel adventure. Simeon has been to six out of seven continents and has had his photograph taken in 143 countries and at least 643 bars and restaurants. Will his stories of his fights in the Congo, Vietnam backpacking, and hobnobs with Hollywood actors interest his monkey mates?

This was the only photograph of Simeon we had permission to use. I don’t think he’s as big as a bus.

Surely it’s a trick!

Ubud Monkey Forest (5)

KAILEEN: TV executives are hoping Kaileen will be the “loose” one of the group. Apparently, great TV needs a floozy. I don’t agree. But you can’t deny how suggestive she is with the banana.

Kaileen lives in Ubud, where she goes by the motto “If you live on an island you are obliged to party hard!”

drop bear

TIMMY: Is a rough savage who shuns contact with any form of companionship. He used to live on the volcano of Gunung Abang, and mugged unprotected travelers. When finally caught by handlers, he grudgingly made the deal he would participate on Big Monkey.

The stakes are high for Timmy. If he wins, he earns his freedom. If he loses he will be locked away in the St Brutus’s Institution for Incurable Monkeys, in England.

The other monkeys will be revealed in the live program on Friday night. Remember, Big Monkey is watching you! Actually, that’s a load of crap. You’re watching Big Monkey!

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Big Monkey is watching you!!!

I WAS lying by the fountain yesterday with my pants off, scaring the tourists as usual, when some pretty lady smelling of frangipani perfume entered the forest. She brushed past Mojo juggling baby tourists, not even acknowledging the trick with a lip glossed smile and a “oh that’s so cute”. She eyed me down and strode up to me in her high heels.

Her name is Gina. The local 21-year-old TV news anchorwoman. She knows how to present herself. It’s her profession. You can believe anything she says because you want to. It’s amazing how her eyes can be so wide (innocent?), the pupils so brown, the whites so perfect and unmarked by wax or the bloodshot of red. How she gets her hair tidy, curly (prim?) in the humidity of Bali weather beats me.

I can describe her even more, but I think this song best sums the dynamics between us both.

After she asked “can you put your clothes on!” she moved on to asking if the monkeys would be interested in being part of a TV show. Gina’s bosses must have heard about the ministry work I’ve done as Monkey King in Ubud. Now they want to exploit it.

I said “what sort of TV show? Will I be getting a cheque?”

She said the show would be called “Big Monkey.” The premise is that 15 monkeys will live in a tree with their monkey king (that could be me! I’m a monkey king!) and it would be filmed. To keep it interesting  we’ll play war games on the tree branches, mostly using pointy objects and paintball guns. We’d also have casino nights where we gamble away our week’s rations.


Big Monkey-1

Hello =-)

As the Big Monkey, I get to nominate the monkeys who annoy me the most each week, and viewers from around the world get to vote out their least favourite.

The one voted out has 10 seconds to leave the tree, or I get to kick them off of it. Sure, it’s a familiar concept, which means it will probably work.

Updates on the monkey-mates – and on my progress scoring with Gina – will be released soon.

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