Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Borneo International Kite Festival, Sarawak

Sarawak is a strange pick and mix of contradictions, from its massively industrialised coastal cities to its sparsely populated rural villages with barely any electricity. Therefore, it should not be entirely surprising that Sarawak hosts the Borneo International Kite Festival despite there being almost no kite-flying culture in Sarawak or even in the rest of Borneo.

The festival is located on a rare patch of green space in the industrial behemoth of a town that is Bintulu, known for its natural gas factories rather than its leisurely love of kites. Still, every year since 2005, competitive kite flyers have come here to showcase their tremendous skill in return for a chance at winning over-sized shiny trophies and the respect of their peers.

Yet the festival is not just about the cut-throat world of stunt flying — it’s also about the aesthetics of the kites. All along the side of the flying arena fly ornamental kites in all shapes, colours and sizes. If you arrive at the festival with a good wind, you’ll be blown away (ed: boomtish!) by the sheer number of kites flying, their tethers hidden so it looks as if they’re levitating.

The whole thing is free and is usually held on the last weekend of September over two days. It doesn’t really matter what time you arrive, as long as you have some daylight left. There are stunt kite demos all throughout the day and if you miss these, there are always the massive show kites to admire. Try not to get in the way of the lines!

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