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Buffalo Races: Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara

mini-buffalo-races.JPGBuffalo races take place all over Indonesia and their forms vary from place to place. Whereas buffalo races in Bali are done on an oval track, with riders in carts, the buffalo races I witnessed in Sumbawa were quite different. In Sumbawa, the buffalo were more in their natural environment — a muddy field. You see, water buffaloes have little hair. They are practically naked their entire lives, with just a tiny bit of hair sticking out of tough elephant-like gray skin. This is why they are called buffalo — they’re in the buff! Luckily, water buffalo are rather proud of their baldness and have never taken to the barcode look that balding men resort to when they comb all their remaining hair over their bald spot. No, with bald buffalo it’s different. They’re comfortable with their nakedness. And it’s a good thing, because you can just imagine the size a buffalo toupee would have to be.

Balding men should take a hint from the water buffalo, who spend a lot of time wallowing in mud. Mud adheres to the skin and keeps them cool. So bald men can easily cool off in the Indonesian heat by dipping their head in some mud. Mud hats would indeed be very fashionable. Just like the beehive haircut was popular with women in the 50s, the wasp-nest-style hat could be very fashionable for the modern bald man.

But mud isn’t just for men. Buffalo were the first to recognize the beauty benefits of a mud spa. Quite the entrepreneurs they are — now mud spas are famous all over the world as beauty treatments for both men and women. We have these gentle, beautiful beasts to thank for this.

Being a bit of a bovine aficionado myself, I was highly interested in seeing how these water buffalo in Sumbawa would perform.

by Amy Chavez