The Macaque Garden is a place where wild macaques gather in anticipation of the elderly couple that regularly feeds them. For 100 NT, you get admission to kick it with your distant relatives and a cup of fresh brewed coffee. May and I had stumbled upon it by chance and were glad we did!
We started in the afternoon, driving towards Dakeng, an area I have yet to explore very thoroughly. In the middle of the town is a turnabout with three roads. One leads back to Taichung City, one towards Xinshe, and another one ambles off into the mountains. We choose the latter. With little to see aside from the mountain scenery, gardens and weekend getaways for the well-to-do, we soldiered on until I spotted a sign reading “獼猴園“. I knew that 猴子 is “monkey” but could only guess that a 獼猴 is something along those lines. At that moment, I decided and informed May that that we were going to the “monkey garden”. She responded “that’s nice” and continued to play on her cell phone. I guess bold forays into the unknown still aren’t as exciting as her Facebook feed.
I maintained modest expectations as the trail of signs leading to the “monkey park” wound upwards and eventually to a camp ground. Shortly past that, the path diverged. One path lead to Hiking Trail #4 and the other to the “monkey park”. The weather was hotter than Satan’s balls, and the “monkey park” sounded intriguing. I haven’t encountered such an easy decision since the last time I was propositioned in a gay bar.
We paid our 400 NT and received two vouchers for… coffee? Well, of course. Coffee and monkeys go together like…. well, monkeys and coffee have a long history together that goes back all the way to the time that… well, watching monkeys and drinking coffee is a ritual which is extensively practiced by the people of… fuck it. I have no clue what monkeys and coffee have to do with each other. On a related note: it was good coffee.
I have never seen a wild monkey up close and prepared myself for disappointment like an orphan on Christmas. Turns out, I wouldn’t be disappointed after all. There were monkeys to the left, monkeys to the right, monkeys on the ground, monkeys in the water, monkeys in the trees, monkeys in the air, monkeys all up in that motherfucker!
Some were scooping up morsels off the bottom of the pond, some wandering aimlessly, some staring off into space and some humping each other. A fight would break out every few minutes. It was just like my old high school! We all know that monkeys can jump and climb really well, but its still exciting to watch one pull a Tarzan with no more difficulty than it takes for me to bang your mom.
On the upper level, overlooking the pond, was an old man who job is to threaten the monkeys. If the monkeys got to close to the tourists, he would hiss and throw rocks at them. I didn’t see any monkeys get in range of that switch he is holding, but nobody really wants to watch an old man spank his monkey anyways (see what I did there?).
Then there is the modest, resident dog. I would expect the dog to either chase the monkeys or the monkeys to mess with the dog but they seem to have reached a mutual ceasefire, and they just ignore each other.
If you want to see wild monkeys up close, this is the place to do it. Head to Dakeng and go right, towards the mountains instead of left, towards Xinshe, then follow the signs. The experience is more fun than… (dare I say it?) a barrel of monkeys!