Last Thursday, a monkey tried to attack me.
One of my evening students, Nam, and his wife took the kids and I out for a delicious meal of bun cha and then over to an enormous coffee shop/resort that is tucked away behind the city. The expansive grounds are covered with umbrella-covered tables interspersed with play structures, primarily metal swings in the animal shapes.
We meandered through and around to the other side of the building where an empty stage sat waiting a performer. Music blared from worn speakers, distorted. Nam asked if we’d like to sit up on the hill, a slight berm that overlooked the area and we jumped at the chance. The path was strung with Christmas lights, as were the slight trees that dotted the hill. We followed it up and each grabbed a swing.
There were eight of them up there—metal swings meant for two—perched above the crowd of empty tables. On a Friday night, I bet this is a hot spot to take your date.
We enjoyed the view of both the café and, behind us, the city park where locals were taking an evening stroll. Stuart and I had both ordered orange juice, though they were quite different when they arrived. My guess is that one was orange juice and the other was an orange lassi (made with yogurt).
It was strawberry, chocolate and taro ice cream for Audrey, melting down the side of the dish before it even arrived at our table. She enjoyed the accompanying miniature umbrella more than most would, but it entertained our hosts, as well.
Mr. Nam had said there was a monkey and since we hadn’t seen once since our time in Tam Ky two years ago, we wanted to check it out before we left. Sure enough, tied to the tree by the motorbike parking was a sad little monkey. And then Stuart noticed the other one. Tied to another tree twenty feet away, another monkey sat, then stood, then paced. Not quite as depressing as the first, I went to take a photo of it. But it moved and the zoomed in shot only caught his tail end. Time to try again.
So I squatted at the edge of the sidewalk and zoomed in again, determined to get a better shot of the animal. And in the matter of a second the thing was lunging at me. I jumped back faster than I have moved in a long time, heart racing, the monkey halted only by the length of his chain. It sauntered back toward the tree and we left without another pause. If I don’t see another monkey for another two years, it’s fine. I’ve seen it closer than I ever wanted to.