Marjolijn poses with the bride and groom. Derawan (Borneo, Indonesia). July 2009.

The bride and groom of Derawan

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

My short stay on the small Indonesian island of Derawan, last July, allowed me to attend no less than two weddings! Two almost identical weddings, with kitsch decoration and pop-guimauve orchestra. More a social obligation, I think, than a real party.

A video, two weddings

In any case, I would not like to get married in Derawan!

You have to dress up as a doll, with hair, make-up and a lot of pomp. Then hold the pose for hours on a throne in a candy pink or electric blue decor. Welcome with a smile all the people of the village who parade on the stage (as they all come to deposit a small ticket in a vase provided for this purpose).

And pretend to appreciate the music of the invited group...

Strange wedding party

What you don't see on the video are the rows of plastic chairs and boards serving as tables, set up in front of the stage, under a large tarp.

No one is dancing, people have just come and sat there and watched.

Each received a small meal in a cardboard box with a cup of water. Offered by the families of the bride and groom. But no one eats, most will take home their portion of nasi goreng (fried rice) and his cupcakes at home.

For the guests, the show consists of sitting in a plastic chair watching the bride and groom on the platform ... (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
For the guests, the show consists of sitting on a plastic chair and watching the bride and groom on the stage... (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia. July 2009.)

Strange wedding party, really. It starts around 9 pm and stops a little before midnight. Not much happens. Rather boring evening... I guess the real wedding ceremony takes place at another time.

Once installed on his plastic chair, everyone remains seated there. We simply wait for our turn to go up on the platform, to greet the bride and groom with a quick handshake, or more warmly depending on the degree of closeness or affection we have with the family.

One does not hesitate to be taken in photograph at their sides. It is obviously part of the appreciated politenesses, with the small bill deposited in the vase.

The married "blue". (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
The "blue" bride and groom. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)

I resisted the solicitations of a lot of people who wanted to push me towards the stage for the famous photo...

Marjolijn, a young Dutch girl with whom I sympathized, did not miss any opportunity to pose, at each wedding (see photos below).

She tells that on his own blog (in English).


Like her, what surprised me the most was the musical entertainment, if I may say so.

Especially that of the second marriage. For recall, we are in Muslim country. I found it very curious to see these three singers come on the stage, overdressed and very short dressed, who started to shake like in a video-clip. Without being pretentious, it was flashy and vulgar.

Admittedly, Islam is rather relaxed on an island like Derawan: not all the women are veiled, far from it, and the girls play volleyball hard every night, bareheaded, in simple Bermuda shorts and tee-shirt. But still, these three chicks on stage didn't fit in with the rest.


  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009