As you all know things don’t always go according to plan when your traveling and sometimes there are little occurrences that set you back. It’s just part of the world of travel and a good reminder that you really have no control over what the universe throws at you. Flights will be delayed, mother nature throws a tantrum now and then, cultures clash and misunderstandings will inevitably occur. I’ve decided to start this little series of short stories and anecdotes of just such misadventures that I’ve experienced while traveling.
As we walked up the road leading to Surya Mandir (Temple of the Sun God) in Jaipur India, I had a sneaky suspicion that the locals here were a bit rougher than in other areas I’d visited. The goats and monkeys lining the walk sat perched on the steep edges like kings of the castle, daring anyone to challenge them. As if to confirm my suspicions, I saw a monkey slap a goat across the face for trying to eat its pile of treats, purchased and left by other tourists. These monkeys were the masters of this domain and were not to be messed with!
My friend and I were on a tour with a G Adventures and had taken the opportunity of our free day to see the sights of Jaipur. Having just come from the Amber Fort, we were intent on visiting the Temple of the Sun God at Galta, otherwise known as “The Monkey Temple”.
As we admired the amazing view the temple offered of the city, a few monkeys began to join us through small openings in the thick wall of the balcony we were standing on. Previous experience has taught me to give these guys their space and, on the advice of a travel book, not to look them in the eye as they may see this as a challenge.
As I casually looked away from the most recent arrival, I couldn’t help but notice this particular monkey was looking directly at me. Using my peripheral vision, I could see that he was indeed very interested in me. Feeling a bit unnerved, I causally took a step backwards, keeping the creature within my field of view, hoping he was looking at something over my shoulder and not at me. To my dismay, he too took a step… towards me. Again, I stepped back and he stepped forwards. I slowly started walking backwards and he kept a steady pace towards me. He was closing the gap between us much too quickly for my liking. Fear now rising within me, all I could do was say “Monkey! Monkey!” in a high pitched, slightly panicked voice to my friend, in the hopes that she had some clue as to how to rid me of this stalker. My friend gave me a look that said she had no idea what to do about this problem either, and I was on my own.
With the monkey’s torpedo-like gaze firmly locked on me, I felt like the target in a game of battleship, with no escape. At this point I was thinking I’d have to either: a) make a run for it (where do you hide from a monkey??); or b) relinquish some piece of clothing, baggage, etc. that I had with me as a peace offering. I looked down and saw my camera, my day bag and my sweater tied around my waist, knowing full well that anything I gave to this creature would never be mine again.
Then I saw my orange flower necklace made of carnations, the one I had received at the temple within the Amber Fort, hanging around my neck like a beacon calling to the monkey. Perfect! I was definitely willing to sacrifice this in order to secure my freedom from a monkey attack (and possibly a trip to the local hospital for a monkey bite and a rabies shot). I hastily took off the necklace, tossed it to the monkey and took a few hurried steps towards the entrance of the temple. Looking over my shoulder I saw the monkey grab his prize and run away to a far corner where he could enjoy his hard earned bounty in peace from the other monkeys.
Filled with relief, and a bit of pride for having survived an almost- monkey- attack, I was ready to move on. Based on what happened to me, my friend though it would be a good idea to donate her flower necklace to the residents of the temple before they demanded a payment from her too.