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Honeymoon: Part 3 of 6

From Yogya, we flew to the island of Bali. The first day there, we had a tour with a guide and a driver with a preplanned itinerary. Our first stop was at an open air theatre where a Barong dance was performed daily for a paying audience. The Barong dance is a traditional Indonesian folk dance featuring a huge and elaborately decorated tiger, manned by two men, one in the front half and one in the back half. It was great to see the traditional costumes, dances, and hear the amazing gamelan music.

After the Barong dance we drove to the top of a volcanic crater and had lunch at a restaurant with a fabulous scenic overlook. The traffic getting to the top of the crater was bumper to bumper and somewhat frustrating for all of us. So after we left the restaurant, our driver said he knew a short cut back down. So off we went down a winding but uninhabited back road through the country.

As we drove, we passed many small villages, and our tour guide would point out things he thought might interest us. At one point, we were passing through a village when we saw a large gathering of people. When we asked what was going on, our guide responded that it was a village Barong dance. We asked if we could stop and watch, which we did.

The Barong dance that we saw that morning was performed every day, strictly for paying tourists. This dance, however, was so much more fascinating to see because this was the real thing, not for tourists, but for the people in that village. All the children were crowded around in the front to be frightened by the big tiger, and Stephanie and I were the only tourists anywhere around. No one seemed to mind us being there, but they would not allow us to enter the temple yard, only watch from outside. That’s okay, we were still pretty close, and could see everything well.

We piled back in the van, still excited by our great luck, when about ten minutes down the road, we passed by another, smaller gathering, of only men this time. Anticipating our many questions, our guide simply said “Cock fight.” That I had to see, so I told him to pull over so that I could jump out and watch.            

Sure enough, there were probably about 50 men, all standing or squatting around a small yard and waiting as a few other men were holding their roosters while someone else would tie a four inch blade to the spur on the back of their rooster’s leg. The whole routine seemed to be elaborately choreographed. They each presented the two roosters to the crowd, while the crowd was yelling bets out loud and exchanging money between a hundred fists. When it was time for the roosters to fight, the handler would hold his rooster a few inches away from his opponent’s rooster, and then allow them a few free pecks to get each bird riled up. They would set the two birds on the ground about eight feet apart, and the birds would run to each other and clash in a blur of feathers. I managed to wiggle my way to the inside of the circle and burned up a role and half of film that turned out a handful of amazing shots. Much like the Bird Market we had seen in Yogya, the cock fight was an inhumane and horrible spectacle, but a spectacle no less, and pretty compelling to watch.  

Posted on Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 08:00AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | CommentsPost a Comment

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