Category Archives: Indonesia

Monkey selfies

Monkey selfies! Monkey steals camera and takes selfies

It’s a monkey selfie! Who knew primates had photography skills?  A monkey stole a wildlife photographer’s camera. Then he started taking monkey selfies! He even smiled in the photos.

The crested black macaque monkey (black ape) swiped the camera and took monkey self-portraits at arms length, like you’d see on a 15-year old girl’s Facebook or Instagram page. It’s a monkey selfie!

Monkey selfies!

It happened when wildlife photographer David Slater was visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. He left his camera unattended. Next, a crested black macaque monkey grabbed it and proceeded take monkey selfies. Who knew “black apes” took selfies? It’s actually a decent monkey self-portrait!

If you’re curious, I found out some interesting facts about these inquisitive monkeys below:

Sulawesi crested black macaque / Black-Crested Macaque, Tangkoko National Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia By Sean Crane. Sulawesi crested black macaque
great shot of a Crested black Macaque. I love his expression
Some crested black macaque facts:
  • They’re promiscuous – with both males and females mating multiple times with multiple partners
  • They live in groups, and tend to either be all males or be 4:1 females to males.
  • Their diet is 70% fruits
  • They’re extremely rare and critically endangered
  • They’re found in Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia, and some tiny islands near it
  • Many names — crested black macaque, Sulawesi black macaque, Celebes crested macaque, Sulawesi crested macaque, or the black ape. Scientific name: Macaca nigra

Sulawesi crested black macaque / Black-Crested Macaque, Sulawesi, Indonesia. photo by Sean Crane
I love his expression in this portrait! photo by Sean Crane

I love his expression in the above monkey self-portrait; it reminds me of the closeups of long-tailed macaques that I snapped in Malaysia.

Macaques can be unpredictable (like these monkeys having sex while I was photographing the view of the Ulu Watu cliffs in Indonesia).

From the photographer’s own words

The sound got his attention and he kept pressing it. At first it scared the rest of them away but they soon came back. It was amazing to watch. He must have taken hundreds of pictures by the time I got my camera back, but not very many were in focus. He obviously hadn’t worked that out yet.

The Instagram-style monkey selfies photos were actually taken by the monkey. Thanks to wildlife photographer David Slater for allowing us to share them. The two (above) impressive photos on this page were by wildlife photographer Sean Crane.

Sulawesi crested black monkey self-portrait, worthy of Facebook or Instagram. It's a monkey selfie! Sulawesi crested black macaque.
photo from David Slater, taken by this crested black monkey
Other primates from my travels:

I was amazed how the mannerisms can be so similar to humans. They’re technically less closely related to humans than orangutans.  I was surprised by how human-like proboscis monkey behavior could be. The baby monkeys (long-tailed macaques) in Borneo were cute, but the tarsiers (aka “Gremlins”) still may have been the cutest primates I’ve seen in person.

Sulawesi Sulawesi crested black macaque / crested black monkey - facebook style monkey self-portrait. monkey selfie!
this shot reminds me of a teenage girl taking Instagram or Facebook selfie pics

Original story from Daily Telegraph. Thanks to Grace for sending me the story.

monkey self portrait from this Sulawesi crested black macaque (the black monkey pictured), who stole a camera and took pictures of himself. It's a monkey selfie!
Sulawesi monkey steals a camera and snaps his new profile pic, a monkey self-portrait

Monkey sex in Bali

This is a story about accidentally seeing monkey sex in Bali. Wildlife can be unpredictable. They jump into your photos for surprising photo bombs. This is one of those crazy examples, where monkeys having sex joined my photo of beautiful Ulu Watu .

Accidentally photographing monkey sex

We were enjoying the view from the cliffs of Ulu Watu in Bali. It was a beautiful moment until…a slight interruption.  Just then it occurred to me that I was surrounded by monkeys. And, they seized the moment.

I was photographing a monkey on the edge of the cliff. Then, another jumped on her from behind. After that, two other monkeys started having sex too. Then two more. Where am I?? Surprise – monkey sex. I suddenly had a monkey orgy or sorts in front of me.

Monkey Sex in Ulu Watu, Bali, Indonesia
Mommy, where do baby monkeys come from?

These monkeys are in their natural habitat, so anything goes. For example, see the ones in this first photo.

“What, you’ve never seen monkeys having sex?”

Macaque monkeys having sex Ulu Watu, Bali Indonesia|
a Discovery Channel moment for the monkeys having sex in Bali

Forget doggystyle – this is monkey style! Looks like they’re ready to make baby monkeys!

Monkey Sex has other meanings

Edit: Monkey sex is a slang term, as reported on Urban Dictionary.

“The communal act of rough …wild …passionate…primatial fornication. It’s usually accompanied with various vocal tones and frantic leg humping. Usually seen and heard from orangutans.”

A reader said it reminds her of this video from Gawker, with monkey sex on the hood of a car.

Mating behavior

These monkeys are macaques. They’re known to have dominant males that try to monopolize females. This is an example of that. Interestingly enough, “promiscuity benefits females and subordinate males.”

Also, “one way to escape monopolization by dominant males is to copulate in their absence.” This is called the “audience effect.” This info on monkeys having sex is from an article in the American Journal of Primatology. 

For more posts about monkeys in the wild, I’ve set up a link here. Learn about:

2 security checks. Really??

There’s enough natural frustrations with travel without adding extra unnecessary ones. Adding two security checks in the airport felt excessive.

Two security checks in the airport

After an 8-hour layover in the Kuala Lumpur airport, it was time to head to Bahrain, a small country bordering Saudi Arabia.  Among the many security policies I find to be annoying are the policy for liquids. I finished my water, passed through security, and bought more water for the flight after passing through security.  Then came the surprise – the gate had their own security check with the same no-liquid policy. Really?  Is that needed?  After passing through, you’re basically quarantined at the gate, with no access to water or bathrooms until you can get on the plane.

We’re heading to the Middle East, so I guess two security checkpoints feels like a great idea. But it’s a long flight so not being able to have water is a challenge. They’ll bring you a little 6oz cup of water when they offer drinks. Awesome. Thanks Gulf Air!  Eck.  I had looked them up and they actually came highly rated online so we’ll see.

Indonesian BBQ fish – innovative grilling

I take photos of nearly every meal when I’m traveling and some readers* have  requested more photos of them. So, by popular demand, this post is on the Indonesian BBQ fish we had in Java.

After a day of hiking up a volcano, we were ready for a post-volcano feast.  Travel is about pushing the envelope on your comfort zone, and this is a great example. We went to an authentic Indonesian BBQ fish place (seafood) – located outside at a Shell gas station! It turned out to be delicious! 

Photo tour of our Indonesian BBQ fish experience:

Dina featuring her new henna at our Indonesia BBQ fish dinner
Dina featuring her new henna at dinner

The waving method of grilling

Their method of grilling was a bit different than what I’m used to. They put the fish (in this case, red snapper, caught that morning) in between the 2 metal racks and put it on the grill, and then constantly fan it. I’ve posted photos here:

Indonesian BBQ fish - they use this waving method to grill
they wave air to the grill’s fire
Indonesian BBQ fish - very different than the grills we use
That’s our snapper on the grill

Costs:  dinner for 4 for under $8!

The delicious Red Snapper was in 2 types of marinade and turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve had! I bought dinner for the group, which included the fish, rice, veges, chili, and drinks, et al. Total bill for our Indonesian BBQ fish was $72,000 IDR (~$7.50 or so). I love Indonesia!

yum. Red Snapper off the Indonesian BBQ grill
yum. Red Snapper off the Indonesian BBQ grill

Choose your fish, they BBQ it up! - Indonesian BBQ fish in Igen, Java, IndonesiaChoose your fish, they drop in on the scale and BBQ it up!  Note – food station is right between the parking lot and the gas station

Where is the best Indonesian BBQ fish place located?

It’s actually located in the lot of a Shell gas station, in Ijen, Java, Indonesia. Welcome to Indonesia! You can see in the below photos – they just move the cars away for dinnertime. Seriously!?!

Scale for our Indonesian BBQ fish in a Shell gas station in Ijen Indonesia in Java
Just before we got our food I looked around…are we in a gas station? They set up a seafood restaurant in a Shell station.
Scale for our Indonesian BBQ fish in Ijen Indonesia in Java
Calamari and a scale…in a Shell station! You can see the Shell banner in the background. It was at a gas station

The experience made me crave cooking Indonesian BBQ fish when I got home, so I looked up some recipes. Here’s the Indonesian BBQ fish recipe that I’m going to try:

Ikan Bakar Dua (aka Grilled Fish)


– 1 kg. fish
– 3 shallots
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 2 candlenuts
– 3 tbsp gula merah
– 1 tbsp tamarind paste
– 3 tbsp oil
– salt to taste


Chop the shallots and garlic finely and grind it with the candlenuts and salt into a paste. Add the gula merah and mix it well. Add the tamarind paste and the oil and mix well. Brush the fish with the marinade and let it marinate for an hour. Grill the fish on the barbecue until tender while brushing with the marinade. Recipe source

* A bunch of readers have requested “food porn” from my adventures through Asia, but the request that caught my attention most was Jess, founder of Jessica Alfreds Homemade. Her cooking is delicious!  Try it if you’re in the CT/NJ/NY area!