In pole position for big payoff

It is a battle of strength and stamina as these men struggle to climb up greased tree trunks - to try to grab prizes such cheese, clothes, shoes, and even bicycles.

The competition, said to have started in colonial times, is now held annually in celebration of Indonesia's Independence Day.

The Panjat Pinang event at Ancol Dreamland Park in Jakarta yesterday was one of many held across the country.

When held in villages, tall nut trees are chopped down and their trunks placed vertically in the village centre. Bamboo poles bearing an array of prizes are hung at the top of the tree trunks, and the trunks are then slathered in oil.

Sometimes, a single climber may have little chance of reaching the top, so the young men band together by climbing onto one another's shoulders and then sharing the rewards.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2017, with the headline 'In pole position for big payoff'. Print Edition | Subscribe