One of the things we wanted to see were monkeys up close and personal. We had actually seen the most common type, the macaques, quite a few times as we had been riding along, but they would disappear as soon as we stopped. We wanted to see them closer to their jungle environment, not the crazy hostile ones chasing screaming Chinese tourists on the steps of the Batu Caves.
Our hotel room (when I say hotel I mean a $13 room that had an entrepreneurial hourly rate, but I digress) was just down the road from Kuala Selangor’s Nature Park. This 800 acre coastal mangrove site had been earmarked for a golf course development but rescued by the Malaysian Nature Society and Selangor State Government. Good news for the monkeys. Apparently this park was home to two types of monkeys; the Silver Leaf Monkey and Long Tail Macaque, as well as over a hundred and fifty birds, lizards, mudskippers, even wild boars.
Our usual sighting of macaques when riding was like this. Always in the trees, very shy, and would disappear as soon as they saw you.
So we paid the park admission, ready for a 5km circuit loop to check it out. We were pumped! We were through the gate, we were walking…
We made it 100 meters before the clouds of mosquitoes chased us out. Holy bejebus those suckers don’t mess around. We were both wearing mosquito patches and had brought spray but they were biting us through our clothes. THROUGH our clothes! Total jerks.
Cleave, just when he realized there were about a hundred mosquitoes on those pretty legs of his.
So we bailed. Without seeing any wildlife at all. Yes we did. I’m not sorry.
BUT as we were on the park driveway, writing it off as a total loss, a car pulled up and a gentleman stared pulling out buckets of bread, bananas and peanuts. Suddenly the entire road was swarming with monkeys. The greedy little things.
Mouth full of bread. This really shows the size difference between the Silver Leaf and the Macaques.
Monkey going straight to the source.
They seemed to know that the appearance of this guy meant food because the driveway went from empty to about fifty monkeys in three seconds. They ran out from all directions and we were straight in the middle. Talk about timing.
Coming from Australia where it’s drilled into you NOT to feed wildlife, it’s a very different here where locals have a quite a friendly relationship with the troupes living near them. In the daytime these guys would only be around the park grounds but by dusk they were all over town; up on windowsills, under cars and swinging between the billboards. In fact they seemed to have a severe case of FOMO, because they would turn up at the mere opening of a chip packet (don’t feed monkeys chips, at least feed them something from their natural diet).
Baby monkeys were everywhere and they were adorable. The Silver Leaf babies are born orange, and change to dark fur after about three months.
Kuala Salangor was a tiny town but it had a huge personality. Not only did it have the two kinds of monkeys it had a huge colony of fireflies which you could visit by boat, and eagle feeding too. We were interested in these, but the one company we inquired with had a foreigner rate that was double that of a local for ‘insurance’ purposes, so we declined on principle. We found Malaysia a very honest country with very friendly people, this was so out of the norm it made us guarded. I’m sure if we looked around we would have found a better rate but we weren’t that invested in going. The monkeys were plenty entertaining.
From Kuala Salangor we rode to Teluk Intan, another tiny town but also bursting with personality. We ate all of our meals at the night market, the morning market (they’re in separate places) and market stalls and got to know our favorite satay place, popiah place and coconut shake stand. The locals were incredibly sweet, the satay lady kept giving us extra satay sticks, so of course we visited her a few times. Plus her satays were the best.
The town square was centered around an old eyesore of a water tower, whose claim to fame was that it leaned. At night it turned into a disco ball. This a perfect example of working with what you have. Snaps for trying.
We got to follow local roads, that scootered around the rice paddies, a heap of the way out. In Malaysia, if we choose the walking option on Google Maps navigation, it’s actually gave us some really great local roads, which would only have scooters on them instead of the Highway Five, which we had been following most of the way. Malaysia sure is beautiful. And hopefully many more monkey sightings to come!