Leaving the Chinese tourist group behind, Phill and I walked alone along a terrace area right at the edge of a cliff. Unlike the previous paths, there was nowhere the monkeys could hide here, the cliff was exposed and there were no trees to canopy the sky.
The monkeys were out in full force blanketing the precarious stone banister that protected us from the sheer drop to the ocean. Whole family groups clumped together. Babies, mothers and papa's alike lounging dangerously close to the edge, enjoying the last of the rays. Pretty soon we realised that the was not the only thing they were enjoying... they were also out to 'case' the other visitors. I couldn't believe their tenacity.
It reminded me of a scene from Rio! The babies would follow and entertain the tourists as they sit and look cute for the cameras as the older males would drop to the ground, walk quietly behind the distracted victims and without warning, swipe something from their pockets or something dangling off their bags.
The ingenious part of this is that they would only trade the stolen goods for food. If you offered them some chips or fruit, but most especially some nuts that were sold from nearby vendors, then they'd let the loot go!
"Clever aren't they?" I said, "Yep." Phill agreed. "They must have taught Putin how to negotiate..."
We giggled as we walked along enjoying the scenery, and truly it was beautiful. The ancient temple perched on top of the towering cliffs, the sunset's orange colours blazing across the skies. We ambled along unsuspecting until Phill realised we had a 'shadow'.
An older male was following us, no more than two steps behind, he walked along with that tiger stare of his locked onto my bag. He sidestepped as I turned around.
Quickly I pulled my bag around to my front and checked if all the zips were closed and nothing was hanging off it. The monkey in frustration skittered into some nearby bushes. When we were sure that everything was secure, we turned and continued on.
A few minutes further on, we came to another staircase with another banister to our right, enclosing us in a funnel of stone. All the warning I had was the sudden almost silent pitter patter of little bare feet racing after us and the next I felt a mammoth tug at my bag. I was pulled backwards as I let out a gasp of surprise and bracing my feet on the smooth stones, I whipped around suddenly tearing the bag away from its assailant. My head turned just in time to see the big male monkey (our shadow) let go of his grip and as I jumped back away from him, he turned and raced down the stairs empty handed.
"Are you OK?" Phill asked, just catching up to what happened. "Yes I'm fine" I gasped, my adrenaline levels had spiked and I was breathing heavily. "I don't think he got anything though"
we checked the bag and apart from a half opened zip, nothing had been taken.
"I'd better take that," Phill said and he swung the backpack onto his front, clamping the bulk of the bag beneath his elbow and we continued on. "Keep a close eye on your camera"
"No problem!" This time I gripped the lense and body with two hands instead of one.
"Daring little bastards aren't they?" He growled
"What better way to spend an evening." I said smiling.
I mean honestly, when else are you going to say you'd been assaulted by a monkey?
Giclee Print on Illford Pearl paper.