Thailand: Attack of the Monkeys

Upon arriving in Phi Phi Island on a hot day – just kidding, it’s always bloody hot in Thailand – the heat started messing with my head while my sight exploded into shapes, colours and light; my hallucinations led me to believe I was in paradise. I drank some water, shook my head and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. I was wrong, that’s exactly what Ko Phi Phi Don looks like… turquoise clear waters, blonde-bleach beaches and limestone cliffs jutting out of the sea are the closest to Heaven I’ll ever be. 

After dropping our stuff at the hotel and booking our scuba diving adventure, we crossed the isthmus from the main beach, Tonsai Bay, to the other – Loh Dalam Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Ko Phi Phi, where limestone cliffs frame the emerald waters of the bay.

Under the heat of the tropical sun, we made our way along the white sandy beach in search of a longtail boat we could charter to take us around the archipelago. After inquiring about prices and feeling like we were on the verge of getting scammed, we skipped to plan B which was renting a kayak to Monkey Beach. We found some people sitting on the beach that would rent the kayaks but they had nowhere to leave our stuff. You know what they say about losing your passport in Thailand… Just don’t!

We had already made up our minds to go back to the hotel when I spotted a small bar at the end of the bay. You remember how Homer Simpson gets when he sees a donut? Combine Homer with Ice Age’s Scrat chasing the nut and that equals thirsty tourists in sunny Ko Phi Phi.

I switched to robot mode and left my friend behind as I rushed to the bar. I know, shame on me! There were two half-naked bartenders – no, I wasn’t hallucinating again – and two other white people sitting there. They spotted me from afar – they probably hadn’t had any customers in a while or I looked like I was going to eat them – and they greeted me in the friendliest way you can imagine that doesn’t involve any physical contact.

Although they weren’t wearing enough clothes for me to tell if they were hippies or hipsters, once they started talking about the vibe of the place, I made up my mind: they were just surfers. One of them was Australian, while the other three were Brits, out of which two owned the company (bar and scuba diving centre). They were extremely friendly and not only gave us travel advice but also solved the problem we had at hand as they offered us a kayak to reach Monkey Beach and a place to store our belongings. It was all very cheap: 100 Bahts each (about US$3). 

We were in the middle of negotiations when two Swedish guys sat next to us (it’s a small beach bar) and proved there must have been something in the air *jokes* because we made friends at once and invited them to go kayaking with us. When I added one of the Swedish guys on Facebook, I found out he knew my brother and had even stayed at my family home in Málaga! Whaaaat! It’s a small world after all, folks. It’s a small, small world. Afterwards, they introduced us to their friend, Frida; right then and there we didn’t know how much the world would owe to one girl. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The five of us paddled across the bay in northwest direction for about 15 minutes until we came across the hidden cove of Ao Ling (Monkey Beach), home to a colony of cheeky monkeys who climb onto visitors’ arms, legs, heads – you name it – in search of something to eat. We observed them as they played with other tourists while the latter took selfies with the cute animals.

I couldn’t help but laugh when a monkey climbed onto my friend’s leg, stole her water bottle and took it back to the bush where its fellow mates rested. There I watched amused how the monkey pierced into the bottle and drank from it. What stroke me as most surprising, however, was a shiny blue object lying on the ground next to the monkey. It was a camera.

It hit me that these animals don’t resemble the hungry ones you meet at the zoo but, instead, they take after Aladdin’s kleptomaniac monkey partner, Abu. I decided to keep my distance, not only because I wasn’t planning on getting my GoPro stolen but also because I’ve read about monkey attacks and their viral diseases. Granted, I had travel insurance, but with my luck and accident-proneness, I wasn’t about to tempt fate. 

Despite not wearing any bathing suit, I couldn’t resist the turquoise clear waters of the cove under the merciless sun and while wearing my trousers and singlet, I appeased my senses by submerging myself in the sea. Soon after, the rest of visitors headed to the water, leaving the shore and kayaks deserted.

As in a trance, we played in the water, swam, filmed the fishes right under the surface and, like children, we enjoyed the fresh clear water. It looked like we belonged in a scene from the film The Blue Lagoon, except for that there were more people here and we were wearing more clothes.

Upon returning to the shore, we found the monkeys pillaging every kayak on the beach. I grabbed my life vest and started to film the visitors trying to get the monkeys off their kayaks, which was very amusing. I saw men and monkeys facing off, guys kicking sand at the animals, a monkey chasing a girl who ran for her life towards the water… It was like a Charlie Chaplin film, but live and loud. I was having a blast.

But Karma is a like Twitter troll, and while I turned around to film a tourist getting attacked by a monkey, a group of monkeys were headed my way. When I turned around, I saw a bunch of angry monkeys coming towards me. I still remember vividly the furious face of the monkey that was nearest to me and the high-pitch sound it made when it screamed.

I panicked. I wasn’t just avoiding losing my GoPro, but also getting scratched and catching some viral disease. While I ran for my life, I tripped on a kayak and fell over, hitting my right shoulder. Something cracked. Caught up in the adrenaline rush of the moment and dreading that the monkeys would attack me while I was lying on the sand, I stood up and rushed to the water.

Meanwhile, one of the people that escaped the monkey attack with me went back to his kayak and examined his paddles. Then he noticed one of the paddles was bent. One of us had stepped on it. Possibly… me, but let’s not blame anyone. He tried to push the paddle to set it straight, but failed miserably. Upon losing his patience, he tossed the paddle into the kayak.

Sprained shoulders and bent paddles are not the only aftermath of the *clears throat* battle between tourists and monkeys. There’s something positive to all of this. Do you remember our new Swedish friend Frida Stellborn? While we were confronting (running away from) the monkeys, she was standing in the background filming the attack. Thanks to her, you can watch a hilarious video of my fall and the bent paddle here or the short version here

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