On my first writer’s retreat in Bali, 12 years ago, I brought along by wife Karyn, who taught yoga in the mornings, and our 15-year-old daughter, Eliza. One of my fondest memories of that trip was Eliza’s excitement about all the cute monkeys in the Ubud monkey forest. I still have a whole bunch of 12-year-old photos of monkeys that she took that day on my camera roll.

Yesterday was our last full day in Ubud. After breakfast today, we are heading to our final destination—the coffee and cocoa growing region of Munduk, in the mountains.

But before we left Ubud, I just had to go the Monkey Forest, which is a five-minute walk from our hotel. So, at 5 pm, I set out with Jamie to find some monkeys.

The official entrance to the Monkey Forest, we discovered, closed at 5pm and by the time we got there, the gates were definitely shut. But Judy had told us that we could simply walk to the right of the official entryway and that there would be a little alley way that ran alongside the monkey forest, and we could walk up that alley to see the monkeys.

The thing she hadn’t mentioned is that for the most part, this little “walkway to the right” is really a road for scooters. It was rush hour (when is it not rush hour in Ubud?) and that our alley was a shortcut for scooters traveling from Ubud to the outlying villages, like the one we were staying in. But Jamie Slaten Weil and I wanted to see monkeys; we were committed to our little adventure, so we pressed our bodies against the left side of the narrow asphalt path, walking single file, trying to stay clear of the constant stream of scooters riding by in both directions.

Our persistence paid off. There were monkeys everywhere. Mama monkeys. Daddy monkeys. And little tiny baby monkeys. Monkey families, monkeys grooming each other, monkeys eating, monkeys grabbing at tourists. All in all, it was a crazy, fun, little half hour outing.

Eliza, these pictures are for you!

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