TABANAN, Indonesia — Mere steps from the awe-inspiring Pura Tanah Lot that rises from the Timor Sea to honor the Balinese gods, wildlife on display stops visitors dead in their tracks.
One sidewalk exhibit consists of an 18-foot-long python. No big deal. I’ve seen a boa constrictor wrapped around a muscle-bound dude with a shaved head at Coney Island.
The other is a “flying dog,” or a giant bat — the size of a small terrier.
It’s all almost too much to take in.
Although I’ve seen fruit bats fluttering overhead while biking around Jakarta, in the park near my parents’ house in Queens and thumb-sized ones at Cascade Caverns in Texas, nothing prepared me for this creature.
Hanging from a metal stand in front of a store with a sign that reads, “Foto with snake,” the flying fox appeared indifferent to the throngs of tourists looking to snap a picture of it.
It stretched its wings — three feet across — and lazily rewrapped them around its reddish fur-covered body, as if to return to sleep.
Until a local started prodding it with a pen to make things more interesting.
Soon, the winged mammal bared its teeth and tried to nip the pen, albeit far too slowly to present any real danger.
Curiously, it wasn’t tied down and could’ve simply escaped to a nearby tree. Food was the likely motivation for it staying put, I imagined.
How else would it have grown so large?