Mekepung is the name for these incredible buffalo races. They take place on Sunday mornings after the harvest season and are popular gatherings for the locals. Races start around 7 o’clock and continue until mid-day. It is crowded, noisy and everyone from the province of Jembrana gets totally absorbed by the races, often betting money.
The race is run by two wheeled carts drawn by a pair of buffaloes, which are controlled by a jockey. His task is to keep his balance to urge the rather clumsy buffaloes to greater speed. They manage to achieve speeds of up to 50 km an hour over the 2.5 km course. Many teams of buffalos are lined up to race.
The good thing is that these races have not been turned into a tourist trap. It is still part of the local culture. The buffaloes are brightly decorated, the races are a mix of sport and circus, with pairs of riders and teams thrashing around an oval track, kicking up dust and sweat..
The real buffalo race event, usually is held after harvest time from June to November, two Sundays a month from 08:00 to 12:00. But it is possible to view the training session every Sunday with more than 30 buffalos.
A warning: Buffaloes are not horses and so stopping these forces of nature is far from easy. They can go off track and accidents happen to spectators who get too close to the action. Be aware too of the extreme heat, dehydration and sunstroke. Moving through the crowds on the rough ground is a challenge. Children or sensitive people might feel upset at the sight of the bleeding animals.
However, all taken into consideration, the mekepung races are one of the most authentic experiences of archetypal Balinese competition and entertainment. This is a spectacle not to be missed.
You can make inquiries at your accommodation.