Friday, July 27, 2012

Bali: Attacked by a monkey in the Monkey Forest in Ubud

Right before I got bit by a monkey in the monkey forest in Ubud and had to get rabies treatment.

Monkey friend.
  One second a monkey was eating a banana and hanging out on my shoulder, and the next I was being bitten by a jealous hairy onlooker. Don't go to the monkey forest! As I sit cuddled up on the couch in Perth, Australia today after just being injected with my first shot of post exposure rabies treatment I am still shocked to say the least. On Monday morning, my last day in Ubud, I got dropped off by my guest house owner at the Monkey Forest a mere 5 minute drive from his house. He smiled and waved goodbye to me as I made sure to be back at the entrance in 40 minutes to catch a ride from him over to Sanur to stay with my friends family.
   After paying the entrance fee and walking past the women selling bananas I spotted my first monkey within a minute. Tons of foreigners were in the park as it serves as one of Bali's biggest tourist attraction. I took some photos of the monkeys and watched as the other foreigners fed them bananas and admired them in awe. The monkeys were walking right up to us and hopping on peoples heads hanging out as they curiously climbed up your body.
    A sweet girl from the States offered me a small piece of her banana and mentioned to me that she had the same camera as I did. She offered to take a video of me while I fed the monkey and only 20 seconds later I was attacked. The cute monkey I was feeding sat on my shoulder and climbed around my head. He was getting alot of attention. And then, out of no where, a monkey that had been standing nearby jumped towards me and before I knew it there was blood pouring from my leg. Everyone in the forest was shocked and I casually wiped off the cut and walked through the forest for my remaining 20 minutes knowing there was nothing to do until Danu my friend and driver came back. None of the nearby "monkey staff" seemed concerned about my bite and they simply told me to wash it off.
Monkeys eating breakfast.
    I took out some anti bacterial spray and my Neosporin ointment and patched up my leg. When Danu arrived he laughed and told me not to worry, that all of the monkeys in Ubud get vaccinated for rabies every 6-12 months and that he had also been bitten before. No one in the park that I talked to seemed worried and I got in the car and started my relaxing beach vacation in Sanur. By Thursday afternoon, I had wireless access in an internet cafe with my girlfriend and I started researching the monkey bites. Several people said not to worry and that it would be extremely rare for a monkey in Ubud to have rabies. Over precautionary people did get treatment, but they strongly advised not seeking treatment in the hospitals in Bali where the vaccinations are in low supply and are extremely expensive. Knowing that I was flying to Perth, Australia at midnight on Thursday night gave me a little piece of mind. But I started getting anxiety at the airport where I broke down and bought a giant chocolate croissant and 10 doughnut holes from Dunkin Doughnuts thinking to myself "Well if I'm going to die from rabies, I might as well enjoy the little time I have left!"
In shock in Australia as I received my first rabies shot of 5. 
     I landed in Perth at 4:10 am this morning and was greeted by my best friend from college and her boyfriend. Jillian and Marko were thrilled to see me and there were many tears shed at the airport. And then the monkey bite news was shared. We went home and napped and before work Jillian helped me contact a hospital and made an appointment for me to get checked out.
Baby monkeys. 
     Once at the hospital the doctor explained to me the very low probability that the monkey was infected, although it was still a possibility as there was an extreme outbreak of rabies in 2010 that killed over 100 Indonesians. However, there has never been one rabies case reported from a monkey bite among any foreigners and the rabies was rabid in dogs throughout Bali although monkeys could still be a carrier. After contacting 2 doctors and the Center for Disease and Control the answer was clear. I heard an immediate "Yes" on the other line from all 3 phone calls and I knew bad news was coming. I would need the series of injections for post-exposure rabies treatment over the next 30 days. But how could I possibly do this while I am traveling to 6 countries in 30 days? In only a week I'll be heading to Bangkok, Thailand and then Cambodia and finally Vietnam. Luckily, the treatment shots take place on day 0,3,7,14, and 28. I am able to get the first 3 shots during my time here in Perth and one while in Vietnam and my final shot in California. Getting the shots gives me peace of mind that I will not go crazy and die a terrible death. 
A beautiful bridge inside the forest.
     I still cannot believe this crazy event has happened to me. As I sit here looking at the pictures of Monkey Forest and my first rabies shot vaccination I am in disbelief. I was so worried about protecting myself from crazy people and thieves while in South East Asia and I didn't even consider any animal borne diseases. This has definitely been a wake up call for me during my travels and I feel blessed that I am able to continue my journey.
     As for the Monkey Forest in Bali, I would never recommend for tourists to go there. Apparently people get bit there all the time. The monkeys are very dangerous and although many people brave the forest and never have any issues, there is a high chance that a monkey could bite you. After a party with my friends family in Sanur, her great uncle shared his story about being bit over 15 years ago, and his daughter had also been bitten. I had no idea that their were so many cases of monkey bites in the forest, and although it is a beautiful place to visit, I would never recommend it to anyone. Stay far away from the monkey forest and you will be safe! Or else, you might find yourself paying over $1,000 for rabies treatment or even worse go crazy and die from rabies itself.

The monkeys are everywhere, currently there are over 600 monkeys in the Monkey Forest.

Women selling bananas at the park entrance.

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  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gone Seoul Searching in Japan: On leaving Japan

Teaching in Tokyo, Japan for the summer of 2012 was wonderful thanks to my good friends and students!

  My suitcases are stuffed full of presents from my students and my wallet has 4 different currencies. I'm leaving Japan, and I'm in denial. My time here has been very bitter and sweet and 2 1/2 months really does fly by when you are so busy working and sightseeing on the weekends. This opportunity has been a blessing from god in so many ways.
   As I begin my journey throughout South East Asia for the next 30 days, I'm taking a look back at what brought me to this point in my life. It all started my junior year of college at Loyola Marymount University when Oscar Borboa, the editor in cheif of our student run newspaper encouraged me to apply for a summer study scholarship program in Korea. I was awarded the 2 week adventure of a lifetime and after a tour of YBM decided that would be my first job upon graduating college back in May of 2010. After a wonderful year in Korea, possibly the best year of my life, I returned to San Diego to start a Masters in TESOL with the goal of becoming a well educated ESL professional. During my summer vacation in 2012, I sought out a university teaching job in Japan with Westgate and after a short 8 months in California I boarded the plane to Tokyo and arrived on May 1st.
   Starting today I will be taking a 30 day trip around SEA. I'll start out in Bali where I will meet my university professor's gamelan trainers and stay in Ubud. Then I'll meet a good friend from graduate school and hang out with her family in Denpasar. Finally, I'll hang out in Legian and do a trip to Lombangan Island. After Bali, I have the opportunity to see one of my best friends from college in Perth, Australia for one week. Leaving the Austrailian winter behind I'll have to learn to adjust to the heat in Bangkok, Thailand and survive a long bus ride to Cambodia to Siem Riep. To top off my 30 day adventure I'll fly up to Hanoi and travel to Halong Bay and finally stay with another friend in Ho Chi Minh. At the end of my 30 days I'll return to Tokyo for 2 nights and then fly back to California on a Sunday. And then the next adventure begins the next morning at 9 am in my new ESL classroom in San Diego.
    With so little time for relaxation during the past 2.5 months and so little time to relax upon returning home, I'm going to do my best to take in the atmosphere of each country while sleeping in and reading some great books. For those of you reading that have never traveled abroad, get out there already! Traveling for a short time is one thing, but living is another. You truly get to know the culture of each place you live and it will change your perspective on so many things that you believed in.  After coming to Asia and experiencing so many different cultures and countries I have learned that even among Asian countries they are all so different and each culture has its own characteristics. So stay with a host family, get out of the tourist trap area, and don't be afraid to wander off the beaten path.

 I have absolutely loved my time here in Japan and have made so many wonderful friends! Happy travels to all of my friends from Japan!

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  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Gone Seoul Searching in Japan: A letter to my wonderful students

Playing bingo at our class party on Wednesday June 18th, 2012.

Dear students,

When I first came to Japan I was very lonely. I was sad to be away from my friends and family, but very excited to apply new skills that I have learned as a teacher in my graduate school program in TESOL. I was extremely nervous on our first day of class as I wanted all of you to be engaged in my class and to have a different experience learning English than in your middle school and high school years. I'm sorry it took me almost 3 weeks to learn everyone's names! Thank you for always participating in my class and keeping an open mind. You have been an amazing group of students, willing to take risks and learn from your mistakes. Every day you walk into my classroom with a giant smile on your face and work very hard to learn English while having fun at the same time! I want to thank you for all of the joy and laughter you brought into our classroom throughout the past two and a half months. Always remember that learning English is fun, and that you must take your time and be polite to yourself while learning anything in life. Please don't forget to enjoy using your English over summer vacation and for the rest of your life! When you see a lost gaigin in the station, you know exactly how to give them directions and help them in English! So practice every day with your classmates, review your notes, and join some English speaking clubs or make a foreign friend in Tokyo. There are many groups on that have groups of foreigners that hang out around Tokyo and take trips. Hiking, singing, walking, dancing, studying English, doing judo, if you can think of it, there is a group of foreigners meeting. Please join a group and enjoy having fun and speaking English with native speakers and other Japanese speakers of English!  I have already written you all an individual goodbye letter, and I hope that many of you will contact me via e-mail with any questions about English or updates about your life! Although I was your English teacher, I am also a friend and mentor to you. If you ever need any advice about life, English, travel, or study abroad dont hesitate to contact me!

Best wishes,

Saori and Meg messing around!
Thank you girls for bringing a ton of amazing Japanese snacks! I hope you liked the chips and salsa I b

Students from the morning party!

If you have any questions or comments about "Gone Seoul Searching in Japan: A letter to my wonderful students" please leave them in the comment box below or email them to 

  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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Creative Commons License
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
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