It was no use, it might have been the most perfect beauty spot on the planet but I was totally distracted. I knew he was out there, watching… planning. I scanned the tropical foliage looking for a sign. It didn’t take me long to spot him. I knew he wanted me to know he was there.
He sat, defiantly, on a rock right beside the steps that were our way back to safety and out of this potential monkey trap. I couldn’t make out his eyes as he was glowering so sternly, they were hidden in deep shadow, but there was no doubt about it, they were fixed on me. That whiskery faced, old crab-eating primate wanted to kick my ass.
It had all started out as a jolly jaunt throw the jungle in search of the Telaga Tujuh seven waterfalls in the heart of the rain forest not too far from our hotel overlooking the sea at the edge of the tree line in Langkawi.
‘Not too far’ in non-tropical conditions maybe, in Langkawi’s humidity we were soaked through by the time we’d walked the 15 minutes just to get to the entrance to the hotel. By the time we reached the café at the lower level to the waterfalls and quickly quaffed two Coca-Colas (sugar hit needed), my light grey T-shirt was jet black – I could have filled a bucket with steaming sweat had I wrung it out.
A walkway to the waterfalls led into the rainforest and soon the soggy T-shirt and stinging eyes from personal waterfalls above my eyebrows were forgotten as we thought we spotted a hornbill disappearing into the dense thicket. We paused and stood quietly, relishing the deliciously bizarre cries from who knows what. The sound of the forest alone was worth the walk.
We continued along the path scouring the dense foliage for signs of exotic creatures. We didn’t have to wait long before we were rewarded, but not by anything doing Tarzan impressions through the trees. We’d been so busy scanning the forest that we hadn’t noticed we were rapidly closing in on a tan coloured bottom languidly swaying from side to side on the path in front of us.
The crab eating macaque in front paused and looked back lazily over his shoulder before carrying on strolling, seemingly unconcerned by our presence.
Every so often he paused again and looked back.
“Aw bless,” Andy laughed. “He’s checking to make sure we’re going the right way.”
He did appear to be extremely interested in our progress.
As our longer, human legs brought us closer and closer to him, his backward glances became more and more frequent.
Dumb asses that we are, we realised all too late that rather than seeing as amigos travelling the same path, we were a threat to his particular patch of Langkawi forest.
Just as the penny slowly dropped, the howling mad macaque turned, barked and charged.
Okay what happened after that is a bit of a blur. In my mind I jumped in front of Andy whilst simultaneously swinging my rucksack from my shoulder to use as both a shield and a weapon. I shouting a warning to the macaque (who seemed an awful lot bigger up close) to back-off, which he duly and worryingly ignored.
Instead he jumped onto a badly located bench to get a higher vantage point and then there was a bit of a scrabble, a lot of teeth bearing by him and a lot of rucksack thrusting by me as we tried to inch our way past without being ripped to shreds by Langkawi’s version of King Kong.
In reality, Cloverfield style video footage (I had been filming the up-till-then cute fella just as he attacked) reveals a lot of panic and screaming (us), growling and what can only be described as seriously anti-social behaviour (him). It also showed that he was about the size of a poodle.
It was, I can assure you, very, very frightening at the time.
We made it past him unscathed and quickened our pace to reach the safety of the pools and hopefully other humans but he kept coming at us with the relentlessly steady pace of a Hollywood zombie.
Even my threat ‘I’m going to find a ranger…you’ll never work in this park again!’ didn’t deter him and he tracked us all the way to the pools.
This post should have been about the beauty and serenity of Telaga Tujuh with their smooth elephant grey boulders and emerald pools. But apart from the fact that the waterfall was little more than a trickle and the pools were thirsty for water when we visited, the mad monkey had totally ruined the moment.
The moral of this story is visit Talaga Tujuh on Langkawi by all means; the forest is exactly what you would expect of a Malaysian rainforest. Do the walk, take the cable car…whatever, it’s all beautiful. But do not under any circumstances engage with the primate population: they are a bad ass bunch.