Teaching a Monkey to Kayak: The Painful Saga

Hello everyone!

As i have previously blogged, i love Ko Phi Phi. Talk about your tropical Thai paradise. I would like to tell you a story of how i tried to teach a monkey to kayak, and how i also failed miserably. And got very wet.

Like a sheep following the flock, i wanted to visit Monkey Bay (Ao Ling) while i was in Ko Phi Phi. However, i have a general dislike of ultra-touristy get togethers, so vetoed the tourist boats and taxis and hired myself a kayak so i could get there in between the boat loads of slightly crispy tourists clutching their bananas (actual bananas mind, not the riskier alternative).

The paddle to the beach took just under half an hour, mainly because i kept stopping to look at pretty landscapes and shoals of fish underneath the kayak (anything bigger and i was automatically triggered into shark-alert mode, although i will describe my fluctuating relationship with this species another time).

Once i had reached the beach, i noticed that the monkeys were dutifully sitting on the beach or snoring lethargically, obviously waiting for the next tourist boat to come and feed them. A fairly luxurious lifestyle for a monkey, and i couldn’t help but be jealous of their beach side property location.

The monkeys flocked to the boat as soon as they saw me, jumping into the water like the crazed banana addicts they are. I suddenly realised that i definitely did not have enough food to go around; was i about to be lynched by a manic monkey mob? I sat on the bananas, hoping some of the monkeys would lose interest, and move away so that i could play favourites and feed the cutest or smallest monkeys. It was not to be.

Like blood hounds they honed in on the squashed yellow objects underneath me, jumped onto the kayak and dived for them. Once the kayak bundle was complete, i tried to evacuate to the safety of the shoreline, so that i could leave the monkeys to their banana nirvana.

Once the general melee had died down, and the monkeys had slunk off smugly to their napping areas, only one monkey was left in the kayak. He was pretty big compared to the other monkeys; he was obviously the banana champion. He looked at me as if to say, ‘well, aren’t you taking me for a ride?’. Amused, i handed him the paddle, after making the motion of kayaking for him to observe how it was done. He took the paddle, and hit me around the head. Ouch. Maybe he missed out on the bananas.

Not one to be put off by a concussion, i held the paddle in the correct position and gently moved it in a kayaking motion. The monkey looked at me suspiciously, obviously wondering if i was going to send it out to sea, in a bizarre edition of castaway. instead, i carefully jumped in behind the monkey, and moved the kayak with my hands. The monkey turned round to stare at me, looked at the paddle in its hands, then deliberately hit me on the head with the paddle. I felt betrayed.

Deciding monkey training was not for me, i relieved the menace from the paddle, and told it to go have a nap. It gave me the evilest glare i have ever seen from a living being, put its head in the air, and haughtily evacuated the kayak, disappearing into the shrubbery moments later.

If you are planning on visiting Monkey bay yourself, do not be put off by this one evil megalomaniac monkey. The rest of them were friendly, fun and had no reservations in approaching you or playing. Just don’t try to teach them to kayak.

See you tomorrow,

Emily Jemma


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