This is the fourth post in a 12-part series detailing my monthly highlights from a year long trip around the world. To start at the beginning: click here
This is the next installment in my Round the world trip highlights. This month’s adventures include cockfights, gorgeous rice paddies, Muay Thai fights, Thai cooking classes, A Tiger Kingdom, trips to the moon and a lingam cave.
Cockfight in GitGit
Fan and I were in Gitgit for the night and our host invited us along. We walked up to a hand made tarp-tent with shop lights hanging down. Had we been walking into a club, this is the where you’d hear the record skip and everyone would turn to look. We were the only foreigners, we were carrying cameras and this was not an event for outsiders. The tension was palpable. Our host said the Indonesian equivalent of, “it’s cool guys, they’re with me.” and it was like we weren’t even there.
The whole event was absolutely fascinating: very ritualistic and ceremonial. There wasn’t a female in sight. We were there for about 1.5 hours and saw two fights. The fights lasted about 15 seconds each and took a backseat to the rest of the the experience. It’s the buildup and culture surrounding the event that drew me in and it’s what seemed to draw the majority of the people there.
There were three generations in attendance. The younger generation was there silently taking it all in, learning the subtle nuances and customary practices. The middle generation caused all the commotion. They yelled and cheered as they sized up everyone’s roosters, made bets, and talked shit to each other. The older generation took care of the ceremonial aspects of the fight. They choose the blade and then methodically attached it with bright red twine as well as preparing the losing roosters for the post-event cookout.
In America we get off work and meet up at a bar to blow off steam and shoot the shit with our buddies. The cock-fight seemed to be the equivalent.
Rainy day at The Besakih Temple
Tegallalang Rice Paddies
Absolutely stunning rice paddies. We didn’t have exact directions and later on in my trip I met Jeny in Barcelona who told me how she had looked for hours and never found them, so it was quite a lucky find.
Camping on Kuta Beach on Lombok
I didn’t travel with a tent or sleeping bag so when I had to sleep outside it was always unplanned. This was my only planned camping of the entire trip and it was warm enough that I didn’t need a sleeping bag. We woke up for the sunset and cruised the beach with all the stray dogs before hitting the road.
Walking all the way around Gili Trawangan
This actually turned out to be a pretty crappy experience while it was happening; it took much longer than expected and the beach sand was incredibly hot to walk on. The best part was the large water and fresh mango juice at the end. However, now that it’s over, I can say I walked around the perimeter of an entire island.
Our Couchsurfing host on Lombok island, Segat, was legit. He was 21 years old, owned his own video store/movie theater where he housed and employed many of his friends. He took Fan and I out for a tour of his town and showed us some local beaches and restaurants. I speak about him in the past because, unfortunately, a few months after leaving I got word that he was involved in a snorkeling accident that claimed his life. Our paths intersected for such a short time, but his generosity and drive had a positive impact on my life. RIP my friend.
Last dinner in Bali
Our host back in Bali, Andryan, was very busy studying and working to become a vet so it was nice that he was able to come out to dinner with Fan and I for my last night. We each had a main course and drinks. I paid for everyone. The total bill? $6.78. Ballin’ on a budget.
I had met up with my good friend Steve while I was in Perth but this was the first time I got to travel as backpackers with a good friend. Before I left, we made tentative plans to meet up during my trip. I was stoked when he told me he had bought a one-way ticket out to Thailand.
Thai cooking course
My favorite food from the trip was Thai food. Curries, roasted cashews, spring rolls, pad thai and Thai chile. Yum. We decided to sign up for a Thai cooking class while we were in Chang Mai. We went to the market to pick out all the spices and ingredients and then went back to the kitchen where we prepared 6 traditional Thai meals. This is where I ate one of my favorite meal of the entire trip: chicken stir-fry with cashew nuts. Drool.
Muai Thai Fight
Skyping home for Christmas
I often thought about how different this trip would have been technology-wise had I taken it 20 years earlier. Other than the occasional call using a calling card, I wouldn’t have had much interaction with anyone back home. Holidays were when I felt the most homesick so it was nice to be able to see and talk to the family for Christmas.
Full moon party
If you haven’t heard of the Thailand full moon party: it’s a huge party, under a full moon, on an island, with 5,000-30,000 other people. You can read more on it here. The summary of the adventure: bought a sweet party outfit, two non-sober ferry rides, drank one to many “buckets”, lost Howard, was propositioned multiple times by Thai prostitutes, somehow ended up on a roof overlooking the entire beach, snuck behind one of the bars and bartended for a while, and somehow made it back to the ferry dock for the 7am boat. Howard showed up at 6:59 with his pants completely shredded and tied around his waist.
New Year’s Eve
Howard and I randomly met four gals from California as we were hunting for transportation down to Ao Ngan beach to bring in the New Year. Drinks were had, Khoom Loys (wish lanterns) and fireworks were lit, and dance parties in disco taxi-trucks were enjoyed.
The lingam cave at Railay
We took a day trip (and my first long-tail boat ride) out to Railay Beach, which was gorgeous. However, my favorite part had to be what I have dubbed: “The Dildo Den.”
It was believed among the villagers that the spirit of Phranang (Princess Goddess) resided in this particular cave. Fishermen, before going out, would pray to Phranang for good luck. When their wishes were fulfilled they would make offerings to the shrine.
Sometimes the gifts are flowers and incense sticks, but more common, the goddess is offered “lingams.” This has nothing to do with the Thai people’s religion, but is more the belief that the “lingam” and holy womb (the cave) shall create fertility and prosperity to the whole earth and mankind.