Soaring High

The Kite Museum at Bukit Layang-Layang, Pasir Gudang

If you visit the Kite Museum in Pasir Gudang now, you will see new and interesting exhibits contributed by International kite-makers and competition winners of the recent 17th Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival. 

That’s because one of the criteria for first, second and third place winners in kite competitions is to give their winning kites to the museum for display.  And to mark the museum’s 10th anniversary this year, many kite-makers specially presented their kites as gifts to the museum.

Opened in 2002 during the 7th Pasir Gudang International Kite Festival (the previous name for the fest), this museum holds the prestigious position as Malaysia’s first Kite Museum, jointly managed by the Pasir gudang Municipal Council, Malaysia Kite Council and the Johor Kite Flyers Association.  It is situated on Bukit Layang-Layang or Kite Hill, which is also the site for the annual International Kite Festivals. The field on Bukit Layang-Layang perfectly catches the seasonal monsoon winds and these kite fests have certainly put Pasir Gudang and Johor firmly on the map of the kite-flying fraternity.

Eagle kite by Yusof Jidum from Perak

Wau is the word for kite in Northern Malaysia while Southern States in Malaysia say laying-layang for kites.  In Malaysia, kite-flying is more than mere child’s play as this legendary sport demands great strength and commands much respect.  It started as a post-harvest activity among paddy farmers and has evolved into an international sport today.

The exhibits displayed in three levels of the museum – basement, ground and first floor, aim to preserve and raise the prestige of the culture and heritage of kites in Malaysia.  It showcases a collection of traditional kites as well as prize-winning kites from local and foreign competitors, an audio-visual presentation on kites, a record of f past Kite Festivals as well as a Kite-Making workshop for visitors to try their hand in kite-making. 

A section of the exhibit from Peter Lynn

There’s also an exhibit donated by Peter Lynn from New Zealand, a world famous kite-maker, kite-flying innovator and Guinness Book Records holder for making the largest kite.

Kite enthusiasts will appreciate some of the well researched information that includes interesting snippets of history and traditional techniques of kite-flying, long distance flying, flying by single string, the art of retrieving kites and kite-flying safety tips.  Some traditional kites of the various Malay States you will see are examples of wau kucing, wau bulan and wau jala budi.

If you take a closer look at the central structure of the museum, you will discover that the building also functions as a windmill.  The instruments in the basement are linked to a weather vane at the top of the building that will rotate according to wind direction, measuring and providing essential information to kite-flyers at Bukit Layang-Layang!

A variety of kite spools [Foreground] and
Japanese Edo kites [Background]

“As part of the anniversary celebration, we have allocated space in the museum for a year-long heritage exhibition,” said Anuar Abd Ghani, the Kite Museum Supervisor who’s also the Assistant Secretary of the Malaysia Kite Council and Johor Kite Flyers Association.  Anuar, who is clearly keen and well-informed about kites, also helps with guiding visiting groups and leading in kite-making workshops for groups, usually of up to forty visitors.  Each participant pays only RM2.00 to make their own kite and you can even ask him to show you how to fly your kite on Bukit Layang-Layang, if time and weather permits!

“Tour packages covering three sites – the Kite Museum, Johorcraft Ceramics and the nearby Crocodile Sanctuary – are being developed for visitors to have a better experience of Pasir Gudang,” said Anuar, adding that the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council is working hard to present Pasir Gudang as more than just an industrial hub.

The museum is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 5.00pm with Friday prayer break from 12.30pm to 2.45pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and weekends from 8.00am to 5.00pm with an hour’s daily lunch break.  Entrance fee for adults is RM2.00 while RM1.00 is charged for children between 7 and 12 years old.  For enquiries and group visits contact Tel: 07 – 2513720/21/22 or Fax: 07 – 2515260.

A box kite exhibit by Michael Alvares

The building is also a windmill - check-out the weather vane!

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 28 February 2012

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