My mom loves nature walks. So, when she came to visit me in Penang, we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens. It was almost noon when we got there. As the day was getting pretty hot, we decided to take the tram ride* around the park.
As we wait for the tram to move - out of nowhere, a group monkeys appeared. And just then, 2 teenagers walked towards them. One of the girls had a plastic bag in her hand. Both were excited. They were going to feed the monkeys.
The girl with the bag took out some bananas and held them out to the monkeys. That obviously was a huge mistake! Seeing the bananas - the monkeys went crazy! They tried to grab the bananas and the plastic bag - all the while making scary monkey noises, with their mouths wide open, showing red tongues, sharp-looking teeth and all!
Seeing that, both girls started to shriek like banshees! For some reason, the girl with the bag, didn't let go of her plastic bag. And so, she stood there - playing tarik tali* with the monkeys over the bag!
My initial survival instinct was to jump out of the tram (which was less than a meter away from the girls and monkeys) and run away, Then I remembered that I have my mom with me - so jumping off the tram and running away was not an option! On hindsight: I think my mom would have managed jumping off a stationary tram...
Anyway, in the midst of the chaos someone shouted, "Oi! Balinglah beg tu!" - literally translated as, "Throw the bag!" Guess that made the shrieking girls came to their senses, and they threw the bananas and bag to the monkeys and ran away.
The monkeys are probably the park's primary inhabitant since 1903 when the Botanical Gardens was opened to the public. And maybe they were there even before that. Over the years, they are used to having us humans around and generally, pose no threats and neither are they aggressive. That said, it is best not to bring food with you as you walk around the Botanical Gardens.
But, if you do want to feed the monkeys, don't hold the food in your hand and offer it to them. Leave it somewhere for them to take themselves. That's a piece of common sense, that is probably not common to everyone...hahaha!
The tram ride takes about 10 minutes and costs RM2 (adult), and RM1 (child)
Tarik tali is the Malay word for Tug-of-War