Despite mixed reviews and talk of animal cruelty here and elsewhere, I decided to take my chances and explore Monkey Island ...and I'm glad I did.
Roads leading into this part of Lingshui are rough, but once you get to Xincun Town, the area is quite nice: it's like a fishing village meets a tourist attraction.
I opted for a round-trip cable car ride...so for roughly $30US, you get a beautiful ride up/down the mountain that the monkeys are on... and you get to explore an interesting monkey habitat.
The cable car ride was smooth & enjoyable, providing sweeping views of the countryside...of the floating fishing village below...and down the coast towards Sanya. I enjoyed the ride that lasted a few minutes.
You then land inside the park and there's monkeys everywhere!
There's signs that explain what you're looking at...and zoo-keeper-like staff scattered around the island. The monkeys mind their own business and swing from the trees or walk on the sidewalks. But if it looks like you have a bag of food or food in your pockets, they go in for an attack. My brother reached into his pocket to get his camera...and suddenly a monkey jumped on him, trying to get at whatever was in his pocket. He was able to shake it off...and a park employee came by to further spook the monkey away. The park person said never reach into your pockets in view of the monkey. My brother was unharmed...but definitely shaken up a bit.
Otherwise, it was great to see the monkeys out and about, playing and simply living. I did see some monkeys jump on people with food, but they were warned not to have food out or bags that could easily be grabbed.
Most monkeys are out and about, free to roam the park. There are a handful though on leashes, but I never saw them whipped or beaten. While I was bracing myself for all sorts of animal cruelty scenes, I saw none. There were a few monkeys within a large enclosure labeled "Monkey Jail", but I wasn't sure what their story was. The monkeys inside there seemed to be mean and were hissing at passerbys. If seeing a dog on a leash makes you cringe, you should avoid this place. But if you want an up-close experience with monkeys, this place is for you.
In addition to roaming about the wildlife preserve, the monkeys perform in two outdoor theaters, with shows in each lasting about 15-20 minutes long. One was "comedy" themed, with some monkeys fooling around with a performer. The other was "circus" themed, and included a goat and a pony doing stunts with the monkeys. I thought both shows, while narrated in Mandarin, were enjoyable....even if I didn't know what was being said.
Including the shows, I spent just over 2 hours at the park before taking the cable car back down. I enjoyed myself and think most others would too.
-Don't bring in any food/drink! The monkeys will try to steal it from you.
-Don't act foolish around the monkeys --they're probably smarter than you and could harm you.
-Don't bring small children. I think this place is best served for kids 6+.
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