Creativity in the skies

The line-up of participating nations at the official
opening event of 19th World Kite Festival
Giant birds, fish, squid and many types of colourful balloon kites decorated the clear skies above Bukit Layang Layang, Pasir Gudang, the venue for the 19th Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival from Feb 19 to 23.  Themed, Wind Garden, this year's kite fest was attended by 818 local participants and 232 foreigners who represent 39 nations. 

The warm and windy weather in Pasir Gudang cooperated with the organisers as thousands of kite enthusiasts, locals and tourists thronged the fest to admire the amazing kites and enjoy the carnival on the hill. 

Participants designed kites with twinkling lights for the second edition of the Night Kite Show following its successful inaugural event last year.  Lighted kites from contest participants mingled with the bright kites flying in demonstration in a canopy of lights for the audience's entertainment.  This kite festival will go down in history as the first Pasir Gudang World Kite Fest organised as the first in a series of three kite fests that will continue in Alor Setar, Kedah and at Satun Island, Thailand.
The Sultan of Johor accompanied by the Johor Chief Minister, arriving at the official opening event on Feb 22
Besides the iconic head of the Angry Bird in bright red, the sky above Bukit Layang Layang was filled with giant balloon kites in the shape of a shark, a fish that resembled Nemo and a sting ray. The lunar year of the horse must be the inspiration behind the creation of a trio of flying horses!

First time participant from Oregon, USA, Ron Bohart [Right] designed his kites with motifs inspired by his twin 9-year old grand-daughters and the native Red Indians. A serious kite enthusiast for just 10 years, Bohart uses the appliqué technique to piece together images and colors to create designs on his kite. He flew a kite shaped like a giant bunting anchored to the ground with 7,000 meters of rope and a smaller kite designed with the facial image of his pretty grand-daughters.

Wang Fan [Centre] from Beijing, China, with his team mates and his intricately designed traditional Palace Lantern. He was among the international participants who joined a host of kite enthusiasts to give demonstrations of stunt kite flying during the event's official opening that was officiated by Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on Feb 22.

Johnny Yap and his team from Show Kites Singapore are no strangers to the kite fest as this is their sixth year of participation at Bukit Layang Layang.  His team showed off their skills in flying 4-line revolution kites that made speedy revolutions as they soared to the skies and aligned in various patterns.  While they are skilled in flying multi-line kites that soar at amazing speeds, Yap said that safety always comes first.

Feb 22 was doubly special for German, Bernhard Dingwerth [Seated Right] not only because it was his first time at Bukit Layang Layang but also because he was celebrating his 59th birthday here.  Inspired by the toys he saw when he was on holiday at the Canary Islands, he decided to create his kite as a trio of parrots. Dingwerth, who sewed his first kite some 31 years ago, was awarded Third prize for the Most Colourful Kite in the fest!

For the last 25 years, Sami Sayegh from the Sky &Wind Kite Club in Lebanon has been keen about kites.  Made from nylon fabric, his kite creation that fluttered merrily in the wind did not leave much to the viewers' imagination because it resembled three sperm making a futile attempt to fertilize an egg.  He claimed in jest, that these creatures were white snakes from the mountains of Lebanon!

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 27 February 2014

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