Penang Hill (or 'How I Got A Monkeyphobia')

Around Europe, there are plenty of signs urging us not to feed the birds. Little did I know, while walking past the Please Do Not Feed The Monkeys-signs at the beginning of our hike up Penang Hill that this was also... a thing.

But boy, was I about to find out.

1 An attempt to capture the steepness of the roads in photo | 2 H’s unexpected tan lines by the end of the day — it was cloudy for heavens sake!

1 An attempt to capture the steepness of the roads in photo | 2 H’s unexpected tan lines by the end of the day — it was cloudy for heavens sake!

Most people take the train when they go to the top of Penang Hill. But not your Scandinavian Trio. Those roads were indeed the steepest I have ever wandered and it felt somewhat like we walked those five kilometres straight up to the heavens. The sweat quickly started pouring down every inch of our bodies, but we kept on at a good pace. This was, after all, our very first trek through the rain forest. Figuring we would need something salty and energizing, I had brought snacks in the shape of salted peanuts.

So there I was, chewing on said peanuts, whilst we approached a group of monkeys hanging out on the road. Fascinating, really. They were just sat there, picking fleas off one another (as you do) and were c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y unbothered by our existence. Emily and Heidi casually snapped some photos, whereas I tried my best to keep a respectful distance; walking as far away from these creatures as the road would allow. We pass the monkeys and cross the next corner.

And there, half way between my thinking 'PHEW!' and 'we made it!', he is. Out of nowhere, he comes jumping from the side of the road. Before I know it,  this metre-tall chimpanzee is bouncing just centimetres away from my face.

He screams.

I scream.

Despite my 13 years in school I have never heard a single thing mentioned about how to get a jumping monkey away from you — what the heck do I do?!

I hear Emily's voice in periphery say something about him wanting the peanuts. I realize they are still clenched tightly in my hands. With the Please Do Not Feed The Monkeys-sign flashing by somewhere at the very back of my head, I throw the bag of salted peanuts at him and he immediately disappears after it.

The crisis is over.

At this point there is still another four kilometres to go until we reach the top of the hill and although I am now out of monkey magnetic peanuts, I am instead paranoid at every single sound coming from the jungle. (And as you can imagine, there are a few!) While I do feel bad about littering in nature, part of me also hopes this chimp dude will get a genuine belly ache from chewing straight into the plastic bag.

An abandoned hotel on the top of the hill.

An abandoned hotel on the top of the hill.

Once we reach the top, it is unfortunately too much of a cloudy day to be able to really see any spectacular views. On the way up, we pass a group of yankees on their way down, throwing us some encouraging words of "it gets so much easier on the way down!"

What a bunch of liars!

The way down is worse, if anything! With a mind thinking that the worst part is over and with legs like jello, you now have to use the front side of your thighs to break the speed all the way down, or else you will have to run.

Then again, if that saves you from being robbed by monkeys, is perhaps not such a terrible thing.