As Phill and I climbed the long staircase to the pinnacle of the ancient temple, I felt a very strange sensation of being watched from all sides. We scanned the bushes either side of us and kept an eye on the trees above, but even though we couldn't see anything, we were sure they were there.
We made it to the top of the stairs without incident and as soon as we could, we followed a small group full of Chinese tourists into the inner sanctum of the temple. "Its safer in numbers" Phill murmured with a small smile touching the corners of his lips. "You're not taking this seriously are you?" I asked fighting the urge to laugh. "Of course not! " he raised his eyes to the sky. "They're monkeys for God's Sake!"
Just he spoke, there was a loud scream from the group in front of us. We snapped our eyes ahead just in time to see the crowd shuffle horrified back into us, away from a tragic scene.
A large monkey, spotting a victim had dropped expertly from the trees above, and with lightning speed, raced through the tourists legs, up a nearby branch and whipped the sunglasses right off the face of a young Chinese girl!
This all happened so fast that all she could do was flinch and back up screaming into a nearby wall. Her screams echoed off the cliffs below, and another group of monkeys nearby raised their voices to echo her calls. A nearby man, I think her brother, held her close as she shivered all over, raking her face with her hands as if to wipe sticky dirt off her face.
I found myself giggling uncontrollably as all of her fellow travellers displayed their concern by whipping out their iphones, ipads and cameras all at once to follow the monkey's progress. The monkey simply shimmied up the nearest tree, the glittering glasses in his hands, and sashayed to what looked like a comfortable crook of a branch. He leisurely settled down lounging with his tail dangling in the wind, elegantly chewing on his stolen loot, staring down at the sobbing girl below.
His message couldn't be clearer "Well darling... they're mine now, come and get them if you dare"
The poor girl stood below his tree entreating the monkey to come down and to give them back to her but all in vain.
Phill turned to me in a whisper "I bet they were Versace Glasses"
I nodded, as I lowered my camera just in time to see a young monkey zip between my legs aiming for another unsuspecting victim.
"Maybe safety in numbers isn't the best idea." I said as Phill took my hand and we moved off towards a terrace to watch the sunset.
Giclee Print on Illford Pearl paper.