Panjat Pinang – A Slippery Tradition of Indonesia

Dating back to the Dutch colonial days, Panjat Pinang is one of the oldest, most popular traditions in Indonesia.

Panjat Pinang is a very unique way of celebrating Indonesia’s Independence Day. Every year, in towns and villages around the country, tall nut-trees are chopped down and their trunks placed vertically, in the center of each settlement. A wheel full of prizes is placed on top, before the trunk is covered with oil or other lubricants, and young men are invited to try and reach the prizes.

This type of pole climbing was introduced to the Indonesians, by Dutch colonists, who came up with it as a form of entertainment. Every time an important event took place (like a wedding, or national holiday) they would install a Panjat Pinang pole and watch the natives attempt to reach the prizes.

Since the nut-tree poles are fairly high and very slippery, a single climber would have almost no chance of reaching the top, so contestants usually work together and split the rewards, if they succeed. Prizes consist of foods, like cheese, sugar, flour, and clothes. You might not think them worth the trouble, but for poor Indonesians, these are luxury items.

There is some controversy surrounding Panjat Pinang. While most Indonesia believe it is an educational challenge that teaches people to work together and work hard in reaching their goals, there are those who say Panjat Pinang is a degrading display that sends the wrong kind of message to Indonesia’s youth. There’s also the environmental issue of cutting down a significant number of nut-trees for such a hedonistic celebration.

Photo credits
















Above photos via Traveliving

Posted in Pics, Travel        Tags: , , , , ,

Feedback (12 Comments)

  • Reza Posted on September 3, 2010

    hmmm… panjat pinang was also indonesian tradition. many people do it on independence day in indonesia

  • yudi Posted on September 3, 2010

    that is not thailand.
    that is Indonesians…

    google please, with keyword panjat pinang

  • avatar Posted on September 3, 2010

    that is not Thailand.
    that is Indonesians.

    google please, with keyword panjat pinang.

  • Herbert Posted on September 4, 2010

    You should have conducted a research before writing an article. Panjat Pinang is not Thailand’s tradition. it is Indonesian’s.

  • sihung Posted on September 4, 2010

    I thought it’s not Thailand traditional game, but it’s Indonesian traditional game, your photo credit explain that the game is from Indonesia….

  • Rizkie Posted on September 4, 2010

    Dear YOU who posted it,

    Panjat Pinang isn’t a Slippery/Independence Day/whatever Tradition from Thailand,
    it’s from INDONESIA!!!

    Wanna Proof?

    Picture 2: The picture was obviously took place in Bali.
    -Look at the 2 old men wearing traditional Bali clothes and headbands.
    -Two motorcycles which are obviously Honda (‘Vario’ and the other one probably ‘Revo’), with ‘DK’ plat on it, which is vehicle plat for Bali region, INDONESIA.
    -Look at the ‘Janur’ and the whole building surrounding the festival, it was obviously BALI.

    Picture 6: -A guy who participated in the festival wore a shorts with ‘Balirose’ written on it.

    Picture 7,11,12,14,16: You probably see it a bit, but OBVIOUSLY in…

    Picture 15: You can see it CLEARLY, my NATIONAL FLAG (Bendera Merah Putih)
    and also a guy who wore a t-shirt with INDONESIA President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, picture on it.

    Well, ‘The Guy who Posted it’, you clearly isn’t smart enough and experienced enough to post something like this.

  • takin Posted on September 4, 2010

    panjat pinang from indonesia..
    not thailand

  • LHG Posted on September 4, 2010

    This should be in Indonesia and not Thailand.

  • Wildan Posted on September 4, 2010

    Thailand? Hell no! look at the flag at the top of the tree, it’s Indonesian!

  • ben snavely Posted on September 4, 2010

    Indonesian climbing tradition. Thailand has never been a colony for any foreign power.

  • Spooky Posted on September 4, 2010

    Hey guys,

    Sorry for the mixup, I don’t even know why I wrote Thailand instead of Indonesia, since I used a bunch of sources for information, all of which clearly stated this is a Indonesian tradition. I guess I just have a thing for Thailland :)

    Once again, my bad!