Tabanan stands Negara, the capital of Jembrana regency-a rugged strip
of land partitioning the southwest coast of Bali. From Gilimanuk, the
harbor at the westernmost tip of the island, ferries ply the narrow
strait to East Java, the route by which most of Bali's import needs,
and such exports as copra and coffee, are transported.
in Negara is the bull races, a secular entertainment that began less
than a century ago. Possibly it developed from the custom of carrying
home the harvested rice by bullock cart, or it may have been introduced
from Java or Madura where the sport is strong. Bulls are carefully
selected for strength and color, looked after and pampered, and never
used for plowing the fields.
banners with painted horns and enormous wooden bells (now usually
replaced with metal bells), they parade before the crowd of spectators.
The course is a 2-kilometer stretch of road, and the teams are judged
for speed and style. It is remarkable to see such ordinarily docile
creatures thunder down to the finishing line at speeds up to 50
kilometers an hour.
often drive standing up and twist the bulls' tails to give them spunk.
For the fans, this regional sport of Jembrana is a great opportunity
for gambling. A family that owns a winning bull gains much prestige,
and, besides, the price will double. A little magic is believed to
help. If you are fortunate enough to be in Bali during the bull racing
season, usually between July and October, do not miss seeing them.
Negara is the farthest point west cited in this trip. The road,
however, continues around the island to Singaraja, through lonely
regions of the northwest. The journey takes a full day, on the
seldom-used roads. From this point, your tours may take you through
Gilimanuk and by ferry to East Java, where breathtaking scenery awaits
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