Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monkeys in the Far East

Singing a song in Thailand
I got an opportunity to shoot some monkeys last Christmas holidays.  We traveled from Sydney, Australia to Singapore.  After that it was up and around some of the amazing Far Eastern destinations I had only dreamed of.  Indonesia and Thailand offered many “monkey shows”.  These monkeys were trained to do various tasks:  retrieve coconuts, sword fight, eat with a spoon, count (well, not so well) and even [appear to] sing with a microphone.  These poor little monkeys were so unpredictable the trainers had them tied to their feet. 

I was looking for more interaction with the monkeys.  

I really considered being a volunteer when they called for volunteers to have their wrists tied together with a rope and allow the “Baby Monkey, 2 years old” to untie the knot.  I was glad I did not volunteer.  Seems the Baby Monkey’s attention span was short; he climbed all over your head and neck and around your shoulder and back.

The main reason I decided not to volunteer was because they brought the antibacterial gel with them into the audience.  A dead giveaway.

Upon the conclusion of the show and for only $200 US (and a small tip for the monkey) you could have your picture made with Baby Monkey and receive a souvenir-Thailand-wood-framed rendition of your monkey experience.  The Hubs looked at me and said, “No.”  (I didn’t even ask!)

I did get to shoot these monkeys.  Best of all, these weren’t the only monkeys I got to shoot.

My favorite shots on this trip was from a random spotting.  Upon second thought, maybe they weren’t so random in the spotting; I am positive the driver knew they were there.  While touring the island of Sihanoukville, Cambodia by tuk-tuk we spotted a small troop of gray spider monkeys by the road.   And, conveniently located across that road was a fruit stand selling — get this — BANANAS.  (That was my first clue that this might not have been a random spotting.)
A Grandpa in Snookyville, Cambodia

This monkey troop had all the characters:  old gray Grandpa sitting on a fence watching the action; the Mothers; the Babies that were holding on for dear life; and, best of all, the mischievous teenagers who were trying to stir up trouble!  

As we “shot” these guys, I was prompted to tell my story of my pet monkey to anyone who would listen.  My pet Wilbur was a spider monkey and he looked like the ones I photographed on the fence.

Hubs just sat in the tuk-tuk, shaking his head and trying to get a cell signal on his phone.  (I think he was afraid of being bitten.)  He’s not a real monkey fan, I guess.

As we left we saw a lot more monkeys high up in the trees, swinging from limb to limb and tree to tree.  I could have watched them for a longer time (but the majority decided to move on).  

All gone
Do they really bite!?
We also looked for monkeys at the Big Buddha site outside Old Town Pantong, Thailand (where the big tsunami was in 2004).  All we found were signs.  And no sign of a monkey.  Our guide told us they had all been rounded up to perform in the monkey show up the road.  How very sad for those monkeys and for us.

Our greatest loss, however, was to spot nary a Proboscis monkey in Brunei.  They are only found in Brunei!  We even endured the river “cruise” with the hope of seeing and shooting one.  
Must have been too hot!

The Proboscis monkey-- what we SHOULD HAVE SEEN

It was the wrong time of day and we missed them.

 Monkeys, monkeys everywhere… but, that day, not a baby or a mama OR EVEN A GRANDPA to shoot.