Traveling the world has opened my sight to various weird cultures and traditions. After many visits, Balinese culture has become easily one of my all-time favorites. It's so vibrant and unique that if you haven't experienced it by yourself, I'll just suggest that you go and do it.
Sometimes the cultural differences may come as a shock to a traveler coming from western welfare states (which is actually a bit vague term nowadays). For example, watching granny in Beijing sell cats in little cages for the local businessman as a supper. Or finding out that almost every single remote control in South East Asia is wrapped in plastic bag. Latter may not be so shocking, but still weird.
On our last trip to Bali, our local friend wanted to take us to neighborhoods weekly event. A cockfight. As huge animal lovers, we had our doubts. But I've always thought that one should face new cultures with an open mind. So we went.
I know that following text might sound a bit bawdy but hang in there.
We started our scooters from the homestay in Ubud and drove few blocks away to the local fighting stadium. Our friend had a flailing plastic bag with him. When we arrived at the field he revealed that inside the bag was his huge black cock.
Cockfight is a confusing act for a beginner, but I'll try to explain a bit how this thing goes.
First, the men (didn't see a single local lady, so I assume that this is kind of masculine hobby) gather in the ring all cocks out. Then they start arranging singles matches between the cocks. During this time they pluck feathers from their cocks and try to make them aggressive.
When they finally find a suitable pair (size-wise / adrenaline-wise) other men leave with their cocks and the two selected warrior-cocks remain in the ring.
Then comes the bookie. First, he starts shouting and within a short time, everybody follows him. This questionable concert lasts for a while, and during that cock owners tie sharp blades to their cocks feet. Then it's time to put cocks in their spots.
The fight itself lasts for few minutes and is as brutal as you can imagine. These battles don't have judges, so winner can't be found by counting points. The winner is the one who walks out from the ring. Another cock is actually cooked right after the fight and sold as satay sticks on ringside.
Like almost every sport and game, this one is also wrapped around betting. There are usually 5-10 fights during the evening and lots of loose betting money. As a solution to this, natives have discovered all sorts of analog casino games where men can shuffle their money while waiting for the next match.
I don't justify cockfights. It's an extreme cruelty to innocent animals and I can't see any reason why this kind of sports (bullfight is another) still remain. But when it comes to animal rights, our so-called advanced western societies aren't doing any better than third world countries.
But I don't regret attending the scene. It's always an eye-opening experience to step out from your comfort zone and witness something that shakes you from inside. Whether it's good or bad. It usually puts things in perspective.
If anyone wonders, our friend's cock survived the night. It turned out that the cock was imported and no one wanted to take a fight with that huge furious black thing.