I ran into Ronni, the owner of where I was staying on the boat back from Lombok. He said that there was going to be a bird competition that evening in the village and that I should come. Bird competition? This sounded interesting, I was in! He told me to meet him at 7pm in front of our cottages and we would go from there.
For the rest of the day I was wondering what this bird competition was all about. I assumed that it was probably a cock fight and since I’ve never seen one, I was excited. When I showed up that evening, Ronni was holding 3 dainty bird cages with silk covers hanging over them. What is this I thought? He told me to follow him to his mother’s house (2 doors down) where we would meet some more people and then go from there. When we arrived,his brothers, cousins, their wives and children were all feeding their birds live worms and looked to be giving them “pep talks”.
I finally had to ask Ronni what exactly was going on because I was extremely confused. What was this all about? He said that it was a bird chirping competition and the bird that chirped the most in a set time period would win. What.The.Heck?!?!
After the birds were fed, we were ready to make our way into the village where the competition was being held. The village, is the part of Gili Meno away from the beach where all the locals live. They mostly live in communities with a few bamboo roofed one-room houses built in groups. Back here, roosters roam around freely returning to their respectful owners in the evening, there are only dirt roads and no street lights after dark. As we walked, it was pitch black. I was surrounded by men, women and barefoot children all making their way to the competition in the darkness with only shadows in front of me to follow. We finally got to a jungle part with no path and Ronni, who was 2 people ahead front of me yelled back, “Amanda very slowly ok?” We were walking in plants up to my ankles and I was praying to god that there were no snakes or komodos looming about.
The competition was at someone’s house in their front yard. About 60 people there, including a ton of children and a few wives that came to show support for their husband’s birds. There were about 40 birds in total so there would be 3 rounds and the winners of each round would compete in the final round for the grand prize.
They drew numbers to see what round their bird would compete in and then the competition began. 10-12 birds were hung on a make-shift clothes line and then the judges took their seats at tables direcectly in front of the birds. Yes their was an official committee of 3 judges. To begin the round, a man would take an old coffee can filed with rocks and shake it and walk down the line of birds and back again. Let the games begin!!!
All the sudden men were screaming and hollering at their birds, cheering them on to chirp. The round lasted10 minutes and it was so much fun to watch. I couldn’t stop giggling. These men were so in to their birds and so competitive. You would’ve thought they were watching the Super Bowl. They were yelling and pleading with their birds to “chirp gosh darn it chirp!!!!!!”. After the first 2 rounds I decided to have a seat on the porch steps with the rest of the women and children. They looked at me smiled and said, do you do this in America? No, no we don’t I responded with a smile.
The competition lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. Apparently this takes place 3 times a week. This is what they do for fun. It reminded me of the men’s summer softball leagues that we have in the States where the men play and the women and children come along to cheer.
Unfortunatley Ronni’s bird didn’t win that evening. “Next time, Amanda, next time I will win”, he said. For the record, the grand prize for the winner that evening was a rooster!
The quality isn’t the best in these pictures because it was pitch black with some really bright spot lights but you get the idea.