Anyone expat who has spent and extended amount of time in Yangshuo has definitely met and if not heard of “monkey man”. He is a relic an icon and absolutely insane. There is not one aspect of this man that doesn’t leave one with all kinds of questions.
He comes off an extremely friendly and innocent man until you see his treatment of animals and the videos he has on his phone of him in local nightclubs pole dancing. This is made even stranger by the fact that he would have be at least 65 years old. In addition, his mode of transport is a hand peddled rainbow coloured bicycle-like machine that is just out of this world (even by China standards). There is not a single aspect of him that isn’t considered “WTF”.
How did he get the name “monkey man”? well, previously he used to frequent several of the expat bars around Yangshuo, with Bad Panda and the DMZ bar being his usual watering holes. “He was also previously known as “snake man” as he used to bring snakes to the bar and drain their blood into shot glasses and offer the snakes heart to people as a delicacy”, said Yangshuo local Lana O’Sullivan.
He rarely drank beer and would only take the odd coke everyone now and then, something fitting of a farmer’s budget. He would come into the bars, usually with some kind of bag in tow with a strange object like a small child’s toy piano or a traditional Chinese violin otherwise known as an erhu.
He was a welcome addition and a spectacle for both expat and tourist alike. Then one rainy day in Yangshuo, he appeared with a big stick and a small monkey attached. The monkey terrified had a broken hand and he said he was “nursing” it back to health. So naturally to care for the animal he would bring it into the smoky, noisy dive bars of Yangshuo. Dumb. Working at the bar at the time and having a real hate for monkeys, I told him to get out as he carted the monkey around. He was allowed to come in but was not allowed to bring in the monkey. His solution, leave the monkey outside in the cold to be harassed by children and other gawking tourists. Lana described his actions with the monkey as “the last straw”. She had tried to feed the poor monkey some mango but said the beast was “too frightened” and even alleged that it bit a friend of hers when he got too close. Gross. Lana also said once he came in with a live tortoise on his head, which he danced with in the bar.
Since the incident with the monkey it is rumoured someone called animal welfare on him (a service I didn’t personally think existed in the People’s Republic). He was last seen carrying around large amounts of plastic tubing. Again, strange. Knowing monkey man he won’t stay away for long, he will most likely appear again in a few months with yet more strange artifacts and creatures before people get too sick of dealing with him and banish him once more.
If you find yourself in Yangshuo, head down to the DMZ bar and ask the bar staff about their encounters with the monkey man. You may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the infamous pole-dancing curator of monkeys.