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A macaque monkey sits innocently

Monkey Attack

Yes. Shamefully, I admit, we were attacked by a gang of seething macaque (pronounced “ma kak”) monkeys. They didn’t actually land jaws or paws on us, but they scared the bejeebus out of us.

We were on Koh Phi Phi, a beautiful but rather touristy Thai island in the Andaman Sea. At the end of one of the main beaches, there was an old three-story rickety platform, with nothing but jungle behind and beyond. On the top level, which we ascended by equally rickety bamboo ladders, we saw three monkeys. Two were grooming each other. The other was a baby, innocent and cute. I took a few pictures, each time getting closer and closer.

Eventually, he let out a sound, a little “Woo”, to which we said “Oh, how cute. He made a little sound.”

Sound The Alarm

Seconds later, we heard trees rustling behind us. We turned around to see a torrent of monkeys spilling and snarling from the trees onto the deck. Monkey after monkey, at least thirty or more. All after me, the alpha male with the camera. I didn’t know what to do. My visceral instinct was to puff up, throw my arms out, and ball up my fists. I started snarling back. Wrong choice on my behalf. This just enraged them more. The largest monkeys were at least up to my waist in size and started chasing me around. My poor wife, in her moment of panic, followed me. The problem was that there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This was a wobbly old wooden deck 60 feet off the ground. I would run to one end, abruptly stop, pivot, and dart to the other end. This wasn’t working. I was scared shitless.

Monkeys fight on the beach on Phi Phi island in Thailand
Monkeys fighting on the Thai island of Phi Phi in the Andaman Sea

Eventually, I ran too fast to one corner of the platform. About to run off the edge, I grabbed the support pole that arose from the corner and swung around, ninja-style. Somehow, I was able to get one leg up and over the railing, but my other leg slammed into the wood right at knee level. We scurried for a few more passes, back and forth, and I ran to the ladder and jumped down to the level below. My wife followed suit, tumbling down, landing on all fours. I was more worried about her at that point. Our friend was still up above, but she had stopped running and there were a few baby monkeys just chilling with her like they were best of friends. Fortunately, at this point, the waiter from the restaurant next door heard the commotion and came to our rescue. There were still a dozen or more of the larger monkeys on the second tier trying to get me. Our rescuers had a broom. A second man appeared with a slingshot. And the posse of raging simians dispersed, receding into the jungle from whence they came.

At some point during the attack, I accidentally press record on my camera. Here’s the frightening (and embarrassing) footage:


One rescuer gave me the once over and asked: “Did you get bit?”

I said no and looked down to see my legs covered in blood. There was a chunk of muscle and ivory-white fat hanging out from where I had slammed my leg into the railing earlier. Normally I would have passed out at the sight of my own viscera, but adrenaline had me so amped, I walked to the island hospital where a team of Muslim nurses sewed me up, gave me a Tetanus shot and sent me hobbling back to my hotel, not too much worse for the wear.


All and all,  the most unpleasant part of the attack was that for many nights that followed, every time either of us closed our eyes to sleep, we saw snarling fangs and crazed monkey faces. I guess that’s what the Buddhist would call Karma after all the pleasure I have taken over the years watching animal attacks on Youtube.


Author: Britt

Britt is a photographer/music producer & proud member of #teamtraynham

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