A minibus came to pick me up that afternoon. Already in the minibus were a French couple and a Dutch family. We made some smalltalk as the driver fought through the traffic in the usual Indonesian daredevil way. After half an hour we came to the small village of Koto Baru, outside Bukittingi. The slope up to the field where the fight would take place was filled with cars. This was obviously a popular event.

In the middle of the field stood two bulls facing each other, chained to poles. Local people swarmed around them, discussing their strengths and placing bets with the bookmakers. I soon realised that these bulls were meant to fight each other, not people. I still decided to stand on the side of the fence where the bulls were not, studying both the bulls and the locals.

At 6 o'clock it was time for the show to begin. The closest spectators moved away from the bulls (not more than a few metres away though) and 4 people started shouting and hitting the bulls with sticks. Once they were released they immediately crashed into each other, with a sickening sound of clashing horn and skull, locking horns. The 4 inciters continued running around close to the bulls, shouting, while all of the time expertly avoiding being crushed.

It soon became very difficult to differentiate between the bulls. My first idea had been to identify one of them by the patch of mud on his back. This didn't work however when, after a few minutes of fight, they were both soaked in mud. I also tried to figure out how they decided when a bull had won. Did they fight to death? The answer came when one of the bulls turned on his tail and fled a few minutes later. Down into the village he fled, the other bull chasing after him. Closely after followed their respective owners.

The locals didn't seem to have my problem of not being able to see which bull was which, as a lot of money silently changed hands once the fight was over. Maybe they were just guessing.

The second fight lasted a lot longer than the first. It took such a long time that the bulls seemed to want to give up and call it a draw at one point. But the inciters managed to breathe some life back into the fight by shouting louder and hitting the bulls with more ferocity. It was easier to see which bull was which this time, as one of the bulls managed to gore the other bull's neck with the tip of his horn. This made them Not Bleeding Bull and Bleeding Bull.

On and on the fight went. First Non Bleeding Bull would seem to have the advantage, then suddenly Bleeding Bull would make a surprise move and seem to be winning. But finally, after almost 20 minutes of this, Bleeding Bull gave up and fled. Unfortunately, he wasn't as considerate as the first losing bull. He ran around in circles all around the field, trying to avoid the other bull while the spectators all desperately tried to avoid them both. I was glad to be on the other side of the fence.

When finally Bleeding Bull ran off the field and into the village, the locals calmed down and started counting money. But it was still not over. A minute after he had disappeared, Bleeding Bull reappeared. This time he had just his owners chasing after him, Non Bleeding Bull had been lost somewhere along the way. Chaos ensued when everyone tried to dive for cover again. Luckily, the owner soon managed to convince his bull that the other bull was gone and that he didn't have any reason to run. While Bleeding Bull let himself be led away I rejoined my european comrades. They had been watching the fights through binoculars from a platform on the other side of the field. We all agreed that, indeed, it had been an interesting evening.