It was nine a.m. on a Tuesday in July. The familiar beep of my iPhone 5s sent shivers of comfort through my body. It was a text message from Jake Smith, Volcom TM, it read, "Southeast Asia trip next month, you in?" I replied, "Will there be monkeys?" With a been-there-done-that sarcasm that I'm sure most team managers appreciate. "Yes, Dane, there will be monkeys," and with that, I was in.—Dane Burman
Photos by Jacob Smith
Arriving in Kuala Lumpur was fun. The Hello Kitty plane we flew in was even funnier. Imagine a 15-hour flight inside of a pink airplane with pink seats covered in embroidered Hello Kitty, Hello Kitty headphones and curtains, with nothing but endless episodes of Hello Kitty playing on the seat TVs in front of you. The meals consisted of Hello Kitty–shaped cakes wrapped in Hello Kitty wrapping, and the stewards all wore Hello Kitty uniforms with stupid pink aprons with Hello Kitty all over them. (Quick trivia tidbit: Hello Kitty is a human, not a cat.) That happened. That really fucking happened. We spent four days or so in KL (that's the cool/trendy way to say Kuala Lumpur) doing the usual skate-tour shit, five demos per day, seven signings, a ribbon cutting, nine hours of street skating, two hours of sleep and a baby kissing or two, then got the plane to Manila in the Philippines.
Beautiful country they have there. Very happy people, although from what we saw, the people are going through some hardships. The one spot we skated was littered with little street kids who were trying to take turns on our boards and play around and just have a good time. All of them had smiles ear to ear, even the little 11-fingered girl who seemed to find great delight in spinning the wheels of my board using the extra finger. Good for her. We were also lucky enough to be mooned by a couple of kids as we drove away. Oh, and the food we ate there might've been the worst food I've ever put in my mouth in my life. It was like they took the oil out of a deep fryer and some how deep fried that and put a crumb of chicken in it. It was fucked.
Last stop of our little trip was Bali in Indonesia. This gorgeous little holiday island country place was full of obnoxious Australian tourist fuckwits and almost made me embarrassed to say I was one of them. But I wasn't going to let that stop me and my fellow teammates do touristy fuckwit things like checking out the monkey forest in Ubud. This was the exact reason that most of the guys came on the trip I'm sure. We all piled in the van and headed out one day from our six-star resort on the beach where we had just had a super stressful morning of massages and fresh juice smoothies followed by some beach frolicking. After a two-hour drive through windy jungle and rice fields, we ended up in a secluded mountain village. Driving through the town, everyone was glued to their windows surveying this new alien landscape. "Look at the size of the cock on that monkey statue," Louie Lopez squealed from the back of the van. The little town was decorated with monkey statues and ornaments of all sizes and ages, some looking like they had been around for centuries, just like Dustin Dollin, who was sleeping up front in the van shot gun with his damaged ankle from a slam earlier on in the trip resting on the dashboard with ice on it. The further and further we got into this town, the creepier the statues got, getting bigger and bigger and more vicious looking. "I don't know, guys," Nassim said, "these statues are starting to freak me out." He's usually a little scared of things like this. He actually sleeps with a night-light, the little cutie. Everyone was too excited to finally see these monkeys and paid little attention to Nas' warning.
Alec Majerus was the first to spot an actual monkey; he pointed it out and asked, "Is that a Bali squirrel or something?" Poor little country boy isn't as clued in as his skateboarding might suggest. We all had a good chuckle at his expense except for Khota and Ryota, our two Japanese Volcom buddies who are both actually ninjas and show little emotion, especially not in such a disrespectful way as to be laughing at another person. After seeing the first monkey, it was as if we had opened the ape-floodgates. Over the next five minutes of driving, we saw Bali squirrel after Bali squirrel, in trees, on houses, sitting on the street, running over cars, chasing each other, fighting, stealing. These guys mean business. We pulled up the van to the designated monkey experiencing zone and hurried to get out of the van and interact with our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, but very quickly our excitement turned to worry when we realized these fucking things aren't small and cute, but are much stronger than us and have three-inch fangs that they aren't scared to show at all. We each have handfuls of bananas that disappear very quickly when a four-foot-tall monkey orders his gang of bros to surround us. Ant Travis, who was at the back of the pack filming, was the first to be jumped by about five of the fat furballs, taking him to the ground and knocking the new $30,000 RED camera from his hands and dragging him off into the jungle, "Noooooooooo," Louie screamed "Now who will I film with?!" His screams angered the leader of the monkeys. He swung up on lil' Lou and got right in his face. He opened his mouth, and as I expected to hear a hoot or scream or snarl escape from the lips of this creature, he spoke in perfectly clear English the words I will never forget: "Your switch boardslide tre flips won't save you now, Louie," and in one quick gnash of his huge fangs, he ripped Lou's face clean off; Nassim Guammaz fainted instantly, and Alec and I started to run. The two ninjas took off running, too, but quickly got ahead of Alec and me as they are obviously in much better shape than us. Dustin quickly fell behind as he limped as hard and fast as he could to no avail. Two large Amazonian female apes were soon on him, taking him off to their love nest to have their way with him for all eternity. All I could think was, "If I can make it to the van, my team manager can save me." Alec and I headed in that direction but lost sight of the ninjas. I could hear what sounded like a thousand apes quickly gaining on us, and I started to panic. Alec saw an old skateboard on the side of the jungle path, he grabbed it and threw down, carving hard and fast through the compacted dirt trails. He saw a long vine hanging from a tree ahead stretched taut to another tree hundreds of feet down the jungle mountain back to our vine. He set his sites and popped high, locking into a perfect frontside feeble and grinding the entire length of the vine to freedom. I did what I could to catch up and run to the vine. I reached to grab it to slide after him, but the damage from Alec's grind meant the vine would never hold my fat ass up. I realized my only choice is to turn and fight, a full-on macaque attack, the first lice-infested creature seemingly fell from the sky landing on my back and took me straight to the ground, hitting and biting and grabbing anything and everything. More and more started to pile on and do what they could to get a piece of me as I closed my eyes and faced the harsh reality of what was happening. I was going to die.
I was in excruciating pain; there were deep bite wounds all over my body. I feared I had lost a lot of blood and I prayed to "Jeebus" to just let me pass out so I could stop feeling this pain. The next thing I heard was a huge commotion. It sounded as though the monkeys were fighting among themselves. The weight on my back got lighter and lighter as I heard punching and kicking and screaming until it felt as though there were no monkeys on me at all. I tried to get up, but was too weak. I could barely see anything as my eyes filled with blood, but I used the last of my strength to lift my head and tried to see what was happening. The two ninjas were fucking the monkeys up! The very last thing I remember seeing in that jungle was Ryota doing a flaming dragon punch straight through the heart of the leader of the apes as I passed out from pain and exhaustion.
I woke up in the hospital what seemed like an eternity later. Looking around my bed, I saw Alec and the ninjas, my Volcom team manager was there too, and there was Dustin! He made it out alive somehow! I asked what happened, and Dustin told me he ended up just fucking the two Amazonian monkeys to death. "No one fucks like Dusty," he said with a smile. "But what about Ant, Louie, and Nassim," I questioned Dustin. "Nassim woke up and the monkeys saw his hair and accepted him as one of their own; Louie survived and had plastic surgery to put his face back together, and now every girl on the planet under the age of 14 is in love with him; and Ant got dragged off into an ape sex dungeon and liked it so much he decided to stay." That's how it all went down. I swear.