India Travel – Tips on Staying Safe Around Monkeys

Tips on Staying Safe Around Monkeys

It being the Year of the Monkey, I thought I’d start with a warning about monkeys

Before travelling to India I went to see my travel doctor. It was my first time going anywhere outside of the States or Europe. I got all of the shots under the sun, malaria pills, strong anti-shit yourself pills, and a talking to about rabies. My doctor told me rabies was a big issue in India, especially since monkeys are everywhere. My ears perked up when she told me the monkey bit, not the part where they have rabies, just that they would be everywhere. I love monkeys. I remember as a kid having at least 12 monkey stuffed animals on my bed, I even had a chimp come to one of my birthday parties. And yes, I know a Chimp is an ape but they are still in the primate family. The rest of the day I dreamed about feeding them bananas, having one crawl up on my shoulder like a parrot, little monkey babies clinging to their moms. Yes, these are things I actually thought would happen. Well, I was wrong.

Flash forward to Varanasi, India

Monkeys are everywhere. They walk along the tops of buildings in twos and threes. There are temples devoted to monkeys. They cross the streets as squirrels do at home. Come to think of it, I’d say monkeys are the squirrels of India.

Monkey Collage


I am in heaven. Each time I spot a monkey I elbow Brenton, my travel partner, “Oooo, Oooo, there is one!” and “there, look!”

While checking into our hotel, we are told to keep the windows shut at night and when not occupying the room. Seems the monkeys of Varanasi like to sneak into rooms and steal shiny things like cell phones. Again, my ears perked up. An actual monkey in my room? “Oh please, oh please” I begged Brenton that we keep our windows open at all times in hopes we would get a special visit. That quickly ended when I saw a wasp lingering near one of the open windows. Nope, nope, nope. Close that shit NOW!

Brenton & I in ndia
Travel Buddies: Brenton & I

The Monkey Incident

After getting settled, we head to the rooftop restaurant attached to our hotel for an icy beverage. No, not beer. Water. It’s hotter than Hades in India and I had a bad case of swamp ass to prove it. The rooftop restaurant has a deck with patio tables as well as a sun room. We decide to sit inside, in hopes it would be slightly cooler. The windows are open which provides us a gentle breeze. We order the largest bottles of water available. We had a few problems with said water bottles and then there was THE MONKEY INCIDENT.

Brenton and I are the only patrons and there are two wait staff. We pick a table that is in the center of the room. After getting the water situation under control we chat up the staff. All of a sudden one of the men grab a chair, flip it so the legs are pointing away from his body as a sort of guard. The other points to the window and starts yelling. Both men react quickly. They ware clearly frightened, the one with the chair in its defensive position and his buddy backing up behind him. We look in the direction of the commotion. There it is, snarling in one of the open windows about 12 feet away. Fangs barred, shaggy frame (at least 3.5 feet high)…looking for a fight and ready to pounce.

Monkey with Fangs
Not the actual monkey, but looked something like this…Snarl, Via PuzzleMonkey! on Flickr

This wasn’t a cute little money. This guy was at least 45 pounds and teeth the size of a saber tooth tiger’s. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but in the moment that is how it felt. Within seconds one of the men ran towards the monkey. The monkey disappears from view, back out the window. Or so I thought.

When the man approaches the window, with some hesitation (and rightfully so), he backs away quickly and let us know the beast is still there.

The Beast Waited

We can see the monkey’s fingers hanging on the ledge of the window, waiting for us to let our guard down. And what do you know? That furry shit bag jumps back on the window sill. At this point Brenton and I are in a tight embrace, holding onto each other for dear life. I am guessing we are also screaming like little school girls. One of the men jumps in front of the monkey and gave him a quick push out of the window with a broom. He then slams the window shut.

I don’t know where the monkey went or if it survived the fall. However, I think monkeys are similar to cats with the whole nine lives rule and it is probably fine and off to terrorize the next group of unsuspecting tourists.

Brenton and I let our hearts get back to a normal pace, politely thank the men for the water and saving our lives, then book it down the steps to the comforts of our room with the closed windows.

I am now slightly terrified of monkeys. Little ones are fine. It’s those big fuckers with huge teeth that I can do without.

So, when in India….

Monkey in Waiting
This little guy may look cute…but he is plotting.

Beware of the monkeys.

Close your windows at night.

Don’t feed them bananas.

And most importantly, get your rabies shots. Seems silly to think you could get bitten by a monkey but I wouldn’t want to take the chance.

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