When you think about Bali, the images your mind conjures up are mainly sunny beaches and beautiful sunsets. The only sports that come to mind are mostly water-based ones. Bali is known for its superb water activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling.
If you are a sports bum, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can access fantastic sporting opportunities in Bali. Many of them are not the usual ball and racket games. While you may still get to shoot your loops, some exciting games are the preserve of Bali.
These unusual games show that there is more to Bali than endless beaches and azure skies. Some of these games involve the entire island while others are the preserve of particular villages. Many of these games have been enjoyed for decades.
Unique Cultural Games
A few of these games will have you booking daily appointments in the best spa in Bali. Here is a selection of some odd games that you may not find outside of Bali.
1. The Bali Kites Festival
The windy season in Bali is an opportunity to get the Kites out to play in the wind. The season falls between July and August and often stretches to October. The festival runs for several days and is held in different locations.
The main event is held along the coast of Padanggalak in Sanur. It features participants from all over Bali. The giant kites are genuinely amazing to see. Some of them measure up to eight meters in length without factoring in the tails. This is an event you want to witness live.
2. The Buffalo Races of Makepung
Makepung is located to the west of the island. Between July and November, the locals hold water Buffalo races in an annual Grand Prix. The local farmers enter their hordes of buffaloes in pairs to race in scheduled races in various rice field circuits.
The harvested rice fields provide the perfect tracks for this activity. There are professional jockeys who ride the buffalo pairs in wooden ploughs modified for the race. You may want to stand well away to stay clear of the mud flying every which way.
3. The War Dances of Pandan (Perang Pandan)
This event is held annually around June and July. Head to Tengana, located to the north of Candidasa, a renowned Balinese resort. Perang Pandan is a cultural dance that is peculiar to this village. The residents refer to it as mekare-kare and megeret pandan.
The dance is a coming-of-age ritual that involves friendly duels between the village’s males. Their ammunition consists of tied packets of thorny pandan leaves held in one hand and a rattan shield in the other.
While it is defined as friendly, you will see blood. However, the participants and spectators look happy enough, smiling and cheering. Therefore, it may not be as dangerous as one may be tempted to assume.
4. Panjat Pinang Pole Climbing
Panjat Pinang is held on Indonesia’s Independence Day as part of the celebrations. It is a game which involves pole climbing and is held on the 17th of August every year. The fun game contributes to the cheerful celebrations of the country’s Independence Day.
A palm log is carefully selected then doused in motor oil. Various items are hung at the top to be won by successful climbers. It is lots of fun watching the climbers struggle against the slippery oil to reach the top and win a prize.
The successful climbers win an assortment of prizes such as umbrellas, surfboards, bicycles and many more. There is a lot of merriment as those who reach the top strive to grab the best rewards.
There are numerous other games ranging from cricket and cockfights to ogre parades and smooching contests. Mud wrestling (Mepantigan) is a severe sport that involves fire dances and Balinese martial arts.
All these games are far removed from what you are accustomed to. This is what makes them all the more worthwhile to watch.