Have you get accustomed to strolling in Ubud? Once upon a time, come to Monkey Forest located in that international town. It is better known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary having a cool atmosphere and beautiful panorama. Thousands of trees of different species are growing flourishingly. Grey monkeys as the dwellers are very cute and playful. They are occasionally hanging on a tree branch. This attraction spreads across an area of 12.5 hectares and is inhabited by 563 long-tailed monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). They live at the greenest village. Some are lazing on the roadside, carrying baby, while some others are busy playing water in the pond. Unsurprisingly, the Monkey Forest has long become a favorite tourist attraction in Ubud.
The monkeys in the forest are considered sacred and protected. People believe they are able to safeguard the temple from negative energy and evil spirits. The three temples (Dalem Agung, Beji and Prajapati) are estimated to have existed in the middle of fourteenth century AD. The Beji Temple is located near the creek having a pond as a place to cleanse them. To local people, the pond has a unique myth. Anyone (including visitors) that prays and throws a coin into the pond will be granted with a blessing. Community also believes if the forest is a place to get in touch with spiritual world.
A reflection of natural beauty of the Monkey Forest Sanctuary upholding the balance between nature, human and God has also become the location of the Eat, Pray Love film shooting coming up with Julia Roberts as the main actress.
She cycled under a shady tree greeted by the forest dwellers with friendly smile. Wayan Suartika, the Operations Manager of the Monkey Forest, said it had become a favorite tourist attraction for domestic and foreign tourists. Every day, there were some 500 to 750 visitors. “On holidays as in July and August, the number of tourist arrival can reach more than one thousand,” he said.
Of the tourist arrivals, they mostly came from France, China, Japan, Europe and Australia, while domestic tourists were dominated by those from Java such as Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya. Similarly, there were also visitors from the cities in Kalimantan and Sumatra. They mostly worked as entrepreneurs spending holidays on the island. Foreign tourists, added Suartika, did not only take advantage of the Monkey Forest as a destination, but also as a center for studying primates, particularly the long-tailed monkeys. They examined the interactions of monkeys with the environment and visitors. Tourists from Guam, Belgium, Washington, the Netherlands and university students from outside Bali and Bali also often made a research here. “Even, we have established MoU with foreign universities in order to send students on a regular basis,” he said.
Then, for corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues, explained Suartika, his party had set up a waste management at Padangtegal village. Organic waste was specially processed into organic fertilizer to make trees and plants in the Monkey Forest more fertile. Meanwhile, plastic waste was processed into useful goods. “This fertilizer is used to make the plants in the forest fertile, so that it can produce fodders for the monkeys,” he said. Development of the water purification into mineral water for the needs of people of Ubud had also been running smoothly. Likewise, the planting and maintenance of the forest trees was constantly carried out. “In the future, we will make a suspension bridge to the holy water to develop an adventure. The bridge can connect the west side of Wantilan Hall having a cafeteria to the open stage in the forest,” he said. (BTN/015)