‘It's not as extreme as in your country, sir. It's just for fun.’
The words of an over-enthused school teacher, insisting he show me the local kids riding motocross in the highlands of Sumatra. I willingly obliged.
Each afternoon during the month of Ramadan, hundreds of people gather from neighbouring towns to watch competitors race dirt bikes at the foot of Mt Kerinci. With little protective clothing, riders young and old, thrash their backyard DIY bikes around a less-than-perfect track. Some are more prepared than others.
'They're training for a competition,' I'm told.
'At the end of Ramadan they race for the championship. It's very exciting for us to watch.'
The ‘franken-bikes’ are held together with epoxy from any and all parts available, each bearing a kazoo-like muffler for added ferocity.
A rider slams face first into dirt. While regaining composure, his bike is quickly commandeered by a friend, who resumes the race. The crowd cheers on.
Come six o’clock the chaos abates, and in the fading light families rush home in epic convoys to prepare their long-awaited meal.