In a district in East Jakarta, there is a slum by the name of South Cipinang Besar. When walking through its streets, you may get the impression that it is just another squalid slum like any other. Trash and sewerage litter the ground, it seems like everything is caked with grime and decay, and the poor are drawn to you. They shuffle towards you, sometimes displaying horrific handicaps, extending their gnarled hands towards you to beg for any money you can spare. As you work your way through this throng of disheveled, unfortunate souls, you may notice one that stands out from the rest. At first the figure’s small stature may make you think that a small child has approached to beg like all of the others.
Then you may notice that something is awry. The one who has approached does not move like a child. Its movements are somewhat odd and jerky. The dimensions of the body are also somewhat off. Then you may notice the tail and the hairy, clawed fingers. You might then realize that what you took at a distance to be a child’s face is in fact a plastic, child’s mask. As the sudden, shocking realization sets in that this is no ordinary child, others begin to work their way to you from the surrounding squallor like something out of a nightmare. Some screech imploringly, some may do a disjointed dance or backflips, but all send a shiver up your spine. You have just made the acquaintance of Kampung Monyet’s masked monkey beggars and you now know why this place is called Kampung Monyet, or “Monkey Village.”