It was the ultimate game of cat and mouse â€“ or human and monkey, in this case.
Rested and wide-eyed from a blissful sleep at the Grand Formosa in Taiwanâ€™s Taroko National Park (www.taroko.gov.tw), I woke up earlier than usual. Nightlife was no issue on this five-star stay, which proved an indulgence in an eight-day sojourn that typically found me up later than usual.
I had slept with the doors opens, lulled to la-la land by a babbling stream that actually enhanced what would have been an eerie silence in an unusually dark setting â€“ which was such a deviation to my normal sleeping regime.
Camera in hand, I headed out to prowl around the property that was swallowed in darkness when I arrived the evening prior. As I wandered toward the stream lying directly below my balcony, I came across one of the most intriguing â€“ and eventually amusing â€“ scenes Iâ€™ve encountered in quite some time. And I was ecstatic that I opted to let my inner photographer rule the morning rather than my typical breakfast buffet lust.
Initially, I thought Iâ€™d spotted a caravan of cats tight roping across the stream on cables once supporting a bridge. Closing in for a better view, I realized these creatures were sure-footed rather than sure-pawed. I had actually stumbled across a pack of Formosa Monkeys in a nose-to-tail balancing act that was more fun to watch than, well, than a barrel of monkeys.
The bulk of the pack had made its way across the high wire before I blurred into their vision range. Sensing my presence, those en route upped the pace while remaining careful with each step. Once theyâ€™d reached the bank on my side of the gorge, they scurried into absolute obscurity within a wooded area that I wisely avoided. Come to find out, these guys arenâ€™t known for their friendliness â€“ especially with their tots in tow.
Then there were the stragglers, a mom and offspring who obviously got a late start on the outing. They progressed and retreated depending on my moves that vacillated with my desire for better photos and my sense of respect for wildlife.
When they stopped, I stopped. When I headed toward them, they retreated. And when I retreated, they headed on toward the pack that was surely wondering what the heck had held them up to begin with. Mom was in ultimate protection mode, so I realized I was starting to tread on thin ice.
After devoting more than half-an-hour to this game, I realized they werenâ€™t into my monkey business. So I threw in the towel and headed back to the hotel to grab a few bananas from the breakfast buffet before hitting the road.
A freelance writer based between Honolulu and San Diego, Dawna specializes in destinations and adventures in the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, the South Pacific and Western United States. Her stories have appeared in publications that include The New York Times, Global Traveler USA, San Francisco Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, Smart Meetings, Family Fun, Hemispheres, Outside and Travel Agent Magazine. She is a frequent contributor to TravelAge West, a bi-weekly magazine targeting retail travel agents and wholesalers in the Western United States. An avid marathon runner and photographer, Dawna is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Visit www.dawnarobertson.com