I have been enjoying my little house next to the Monkey Forest, although it does come with some quirks. Of course everything in Bali comes with some quirks, at least to a westerner, but I was more than happy to deal with a few quirks due to the smokin deal on the price (less than $10 USD a night).
The biggest issue is the monkeys. The monkeys do not confine themselves to the official boundaries of the Monkey Forest, and being mere steps away, they visit my house regularly. The house belongs to one of the local ladies that works at the organization that I volunteered with last time I was in Bali, and I made the arrangements through the current volunteer coordinator. She warned over email that the monkeys often visit the garden of my little house, and if they got to be too much of a bother I could move into her house instead. I was not daunted, I told her no worries, I will get a big stick!
Well the ongoing monkey battles are a long story and a blog post in and of themselves, but one of the effects of the monkey situation is I have to keep all of the doors and windows closed unless I am keeping a super close eye on them, and then I will only open the one I am guarding. Now Balinese houses are not exactly airtight even with everything closed up. There are little open portholes at the top of the walls and the roof does not exactly fit tight to the walls. I am used to the lizards and bugs that come and go as they please. They don’t get into my stuff & I let them be. However, it’s been exceptionally hot in Bali, and keeping the windows and doors closed means it gets stuffy without the breeze. The one good thing about monkeys is they go to sleep as soon as it gets dark. So once night settles in (about 7pm), I feel free to open up all the windows in my little second story bedroom and the door to my balcony. It’s super relaxing to sit on my balcony and not have to be on high alert with my stick and slingshot, and my room gets some fresh cool air.
My little house is two stories and is probably about the size of a garage back home. The first floor has a tiny kitchen area and a bathroom and the rest of the floor is open with just a table. The second floor has another bathroom, but otherwise is just one room pretty much taken up by my bed, and opens to a nice sized balcony. It’s also very quiet. On one side of me sits the house and workshop of a woodcarver who has passed away, so it’s unoccupied, beyond that is the Monkey Forest. On the other side is another little house like mine which hasn’t been rented out in quite some time, beyond that is a rice paddy. Across from my house is a little ravine with a creek and more rice paddies, and I can just seen some buildings & lights of Ubud beyond.
I might feel a little isolated, but right behind my house is a small tourist accommodation with a few villas and a restaurant. I quickly made friends with the workers there, as I was commissioned into the neighborhood monkey patrol the second day I was here and even issued my own stick, and bag of rocks for my slingshot. My friend Gusti, who I think is perhaps the night manager, asked me within a few days if I would like to use their wifi (or as they pronounce it here, much to my amusement, wifey), which has saved me a lot of pulsa (cell credit), so we are fast friends. They all know that I stay by myself, so every night when I walk home past the villas Gusti & I have a quick chat and he always reminds me if I need anything, just yell “Gusti! Gusti! Gusti!” and he will run over. I think this is very nice.
So last night I had an evening yoga class and got back to my side of the forest a little late by my Balinese standards (8:30pm), so I decided to just have dinner at the restaurant at the villas next door. For the better part of the last week I’ve had some sort of stomach thing. No puking thankfully, but bad stomach pains when I would eat. Well the pains have gone away, but my appetite hasn’t really returned. I ordered a pizza, which was about plate sized, but I still could only eat half. I was contemplating what to do. If I left the half a pizza there, they would think I didn’t like it and I didn’t want to hurt feelings (it was very good). However another of the quirks of my little house is the little refrigerator. I plugged it in when I first got here and it ran just fine, but then I opened the door. It looked clean enough, but the smell of mold was so strong I thought I was going to have to burn my nose hairs to get rid of it. It was not something that could be fixed with a box of Arm & Hammer. I do not think it was something that could be fixed with bleach. I think only fire could kill that smell. I quickly determined there would be no refrigeration which was fine since I planned on basically eating out all the time and am ok with room temp water. So there I sat wondering how long could my leftover pizza sit out? Overnight? I couldn’t leave it there & be rude, so I just had them box it up and figured I’d deal with it later. Later came quickly as I walked around to my house. I opened the refrigerator, thinking was it really as bad as I remembered? A second later the smell overcame me and I quickly shut the door with that question answered. I decided to just leave the pizza, which was in a little to go box and wrapped up in a plastic bag on my counter & deal with it the next day.
I shut the lights off downstairs, went up to my room and opened the windows and the door to the balcony. I went out on the balcony and was enjoying the dark and the quiet and reading a few things on my phone. Some time went by and I heard a thump. I paused and turned my ear to my room but I didn’t hear anything else. I figured something fell of my shelf with the breeze, or maybe it was a noise from the villas & not my room. I didn’t really think much of it and frankly was too lazy to investigate.
Give or take a half hour and I decide it’s time to go to bed, I go into my room, shut the door to the balcony and, walk over to the windows to shut them (just in case I don’t wake up before the monkeys do). That’s when I hear a noise downstairs. I freeze and think do I need to yell “Gusti! Gusti! Gusti!”? My common sense kicks in, if someone would have broken in through the door or windows downstairs I would have heard it, that means it is something small. The sound also sounds like something rustling in a plastic bag. I have a tokay that lives in my kitchen rafters. Tokays are fairly large geckos, and I know they eat bugs, but left over pizza? Doubtful. Oh and did I mention that the Balinese won’t go near the Monkey Forest at night because it is filled with spirits? They all ask me how I am sleeping, fearing that the spirits are disrupting me. Now I don’t believe in this, but at this point it time I would be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind. Mostly I am thinking “oh please don’t be rats, please don’t be rats… or something bigger” I grab my flashlight and creep down a couple of steps and bend over so I can just see into the first floor. I shine my light, and see that my take out is now on the floor, and the bag is opened up. I am not seeing anything moving, I slowly move my light and under the kitchen table… and I see two white furry little paws, attached to… a little kitty cat. Oh thank heavens, I’ve never been so happy to see a cat in all my life. It is a tiny little thing like all cats are here and totally skittish. I am now talking to the cat like we are old friends. “Oh Putty Tat you really made me nervous, are you hungry? Want some more pizza?” I picked the meat off of the pizza and some cheese and tossed bits to the scared kitty under the table, until I was afraid the little thing might puke. Then I opened the door and took the last of my leftovers out and hurled them from my front gate to the ravine across from my house. If the rats (or whatever) wanted the rest of it, I wanted them to eat it far from my house. I figured kitty would would run out when I opened the door. I figured wrong. Kitty wanted to stay under the table. It took some herding, but I finally got kitty out the door. I locked everything back up and went back upstairs and just waited a couple minutes. Sure enough kitty poked it’s head back in my second story window and I had to shoo it away.
Moral of the story, I shall have no cross ventilation going forward. Even at night I can only leave one guarded window or door open.