May 23

Starting up a Kite in Changi Village in SingaporeFlying kites is as old an tradition as mankind. Wikipedia says that kites were probably first invented about 3.000 years ago in China, made from materials like bamboo and silk. It’s a popular past time and pleasure activity in most countries around the globe, although I believe, that some Asian Countries truly have an obsession for it.

Here you not only see kids doing kiting – it’s a true science, involving the whole family. The usually warm air in Asia seem to help as well.

And then there are these little differences. If someone in Singapore tells you (singlish) to “go fly kite!” he actually means that you should get lost, ‘jump in a lake’ or just leave him alone. Otherwise when someone told you he was ‘flying kite’ all day, he means that he literally did nothing much productive. Flying Kite gone wrong: rescue operation

Hah! What a great idea for a Nomad!

Various types of kites

There are several types of kites, made of all kinds of materials like rattan, nylon, paper, foil, fiber glass and the mentioned bamboo or silk. Even different uses are recorded like scientific experiments (most well known Benjamin Franklin’s lightning experiments) or even military spy missions with man-lifting kites or as additional power sources for Cargo Ships.

Didn’t know about that though.

Then there are kites with one string (you just hang them into the wind) and others (more controllable) with 2 or even more strings. It can really get scientific! :)Kiting @ Marina in Singapore, Skyline in the background

Anyway, for me and plenty of other people it’s just a great hobby. I just love the 2-string kites for the figures you can fly with them and the level of control you can exercise.

It’s an amazing feeling to control your own kite in the strong winds and steer it through the blows and fly pirouettes, circles and sharp curves.

It probably goes back to my kindergarten years, where we even Years back I enjoyed kiting at the Baltic Sea in Germany or with friends at the coast of the North Sea close to Amsterdam in the Netherlands (right Steff, Dana, Jo?). ;-)

Kiting in Singapore and Bali

Both Singapore and Bali are great destinations to fly kite as well, mainly due to their close proximity to the Open Sea, with their ever blowing winds. In Singapore you can fly a kite best at the Marina area, as there is a great wide open space with great wind coming from the southern shore. You will find plenty of other people occupying the open space (after all, it’s a designated place for playing soccer), so either come early or very late. Avoid the weekends though, as it’s packed with family picnics and other hordes of people.

The East Coast park or the area around Changi Village isn’t bad either, although you have to watch out a bit more for electricity lines and especially trees (see picture above). Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival held on the fourth Sunday every May in Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan

Another thing to avoid is kiting around lunch time, when it’s a very hot and sunny day; as you could experience heavy sunburn within 20 minutes, even though you used lots of sunscreen. Dehydration is another danger, so bring plenty of water or other liquids to replenish yourself. If you are getting headache or starting to experience blackouts, it might be too late though. No kidding, really! ;-)

Cultural Strings

In Bali, like the Ogoh Ogohs, flying kite is truly a cultural thing. You can buy them for cheap money at almost every corner in all kinds of sizes, colours and shapes.

Wanna buy a Kite? Nothing easier than BaliOr they are build by the respective owners themselves, which leaves them even more proud!

Kites are told here to hold bad spirits at bay as well, so there is even a useful purpose besides the pleasure factor.

Now, at the end of the rainy season the skies are filled with kites all over Bali. They start early in the morning and even at sunset you can still see their silhouettes everywhere (see picture to the right).Kite Sunset in Bali

They have even competitions here, where the owners of kites fight with each other trying to to snag each other’s kites or cut other kites down. To do that their strings are passed through a mixture of ground glass powder and glue. The resulting strings are very abrasive and can sever the competitor’s strings or even damage their kites.

To some kites even blinking lights are attached, which make up for an even more impressive experience.

With the internet full of sites, dedicated to selling building kits and kite plans, the World Sport Kite Championships and even the American Kitefliers Association, Kiting really seems to be something big, real serious and much more than just a relaxing hobby.

So, what do you think?

Child’s play, pleasant recreational activity or complete waste of time? ;-)

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written by Chris

6 Responses to “Go fly a Kite! Cultural insights into a favorite waste of time”

  1. MikeNo Gravatar VIET NAM Says:

    Could be fun and you might make some new friends.

  2. ZahlenjongleurNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    When i was on vacation thirty years ago with my parents at the coast of the eastsea in westgermany my Kite flew away over the eastsee to eastgermany, my dad said : Now your kite is visiting our friends in the east ! So guess what i felt as a small boy in this situation ? : Flying kits sucks !

  3. andrewNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    Sounds like a funny and relaxing way to spend your time
    Might just give it a try in a sunny sunday afternoon!

  4. Hamid KhawajaNo Gravatar PAKISTAN Says:

    Kite flying is a very popular activity in Pakistan especially in the province of Punjab. An annual festival (called Basant) is held in Spring every year. People throng to Lahore, the capital of Punjab, for this festival. Kites are flown from rooftops and championships are held all over. The idea is to cut the string of the opponents kite.

  5. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    When we were young, our father would build kites for us small children. Summer here would start in April and ends in May – very good time to fly kites as it is vacation time (no school). There is that nostalgic feeling I would encounter everytime I see kites. Here in Manila, I have heard of flying kites and some competitions to be held in Manila’s popular spots like the Rizal Park, etc. I just miss it this year as I had been very busy…
    You’re blogging about kites rekindled my interests in them :)

  6. 3 oddities in Bali, which would raise some brows - anywhere else | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] String causes Helicopter to make Emergency Landing – As you may know by now, Kiting is not only a favorite waste of time, but a cultural heritage in Bali. So much so, that you […]

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