Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Greased pole

More on the witchcraft market soon, but first ...

August 17th is Indonesia's Independence Day. I love the way it's celebrated; basically everybody gets together in their neighborhood and plays games. There are cart-pulling races and balloon-between-the-knees races and lots of other contests, for adults and kids alike. But the highlight is always the greased pole.

The greased pole is sanded until it's pretty smooth, and then covered in used motor oil. You climb in teams of four or five. The idea is to stand on each other's shoulders until you get one guy high enough that he can just loop a towel around the pole and shimmy the rest of the way up to the prizes at the top.

The Ancol amusement park set up a hundred greased poles. Our friend John recruited Chad and our friends Michael and Howie to try and conquer one of them.

I kinda figured our guys would make one climb, fail to get to the top (as most teams do) and call it a day. But in fact, they kept at it. They made several attempts over the course of an hour, taking turns with an Indonesian team led by a friend. They got pretty close to making it.

In the process, they figured out all sorts of ways to climb each other.

And they made some pretty terrible faces.

In the end, they didn't make it. After Chad and Howie were worn out, Michael and John got together with some of the Indonesian climbers and kept trying. When everyone was a mess of sweat, oil, dirt, bruises and scrapes, a lone Indonesian with a towel soloed the climb with impressive panache and claimed the prizes.

It was a grueling kind of fun, but I think everybody had a good time.


nadya said...

greasy men = hot. sorry.

michele said...

great photos!

out of curiosity, do any women or girls participate?

also, did you get a good look at the guy who won by scrambling to the top all by himself? he sounds suspiciously like Cicak man...

kopisusu2 said...

Ha! I'll pass that on to the relevant parties, Nadya.

M, as usual you've gotten right to the heart of the story. I can't believe I missed the Cicak Man connection. He didn't have his costume on, but I can't swear that the guy wasn't CM. He was definitely a hell of a climber.

I did see one women's team. I'm ashamed to admit I was dismayed to see them, because I was planning to hide behind the excuse that "women don't climb." I'm not sure whether they reached the top or not. They seemed to be having a great time, though.