Tue, 23 Aug 1994

Independence Day attraction

From Jayakarta

The Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia was celebrated in the most merriest manner in Jakarta. Almost every street and lane were decorated and festooned with red and white flags and colorful gate-ways were built in every main entrance to the various areas in the city. Different kinds of contests were held to add to the joys of the proclamation day anniversary.

In every nook and cranny of the capital city one could find attractions of any kind, with children taking part in different games for winning prizes. The most interesting game for enthusiastic spectators to watch was the betel tree climbing contest. A grease painted tree was posted vertically, and at the farther end of the tree many presents were hung. Contesters needed great skill to climb the slippery tree until they reached the top and snatched the presents--socks, towels etc. Mostly teenagers were eager to win as many presents as possible. The first two or three contestants might have failed to reach even half way up the length of the tree, but finally, using all their tricks and skills, they managed to reach the top supported by noisy applause and hearty laughter as well as wild yells from the crowds.

Many of the less lucky climbers fell and plunged into the river and had another go until they finally succeeded in grabbing the waving presents. What an attraction, but not without a sense of pity on the spectators' part.