The Borneo International Kite Festival (BIKF) has been around for quite some time already and this would be my first time experiencing it. It has been around since 2005 and I am amazed that I managed to miss going to the festival over all these years! I mean really, can I be that excited about this celebration of kite flying? The last time I flew a kite was like when I was about 10 years old maybe. Can’t really remember.
So here is my account as a first timer around BIKF 2017. Hoping that somehow kite flying would stir some excitement in me.
A colourful sight of various kites. can you spot Sponge Bob?
Upon picking up our rented car at the airport we headed straight into town toward Bintulu old airport, the festival venue. I was bedazzled by the sight of the colourful kites at the international competition area. The kites come in various sizes, colours and shapes.
Some were shaped mimicking famous cartoon characters, animals, some looked like mini parachutes and some were the common rectangular shaped. My favourite one was the Sponge Bob kite. It made me smiled as I had flashbacks of his cartoon series on television.
Walking around looking up at the kites in my mind looked more like a mini hot air baloon show. I eventually got to know that these are tunnel kites.
Very impressive I must say as kite flying had broken the aero dynamics rule. I mean, a squarish Sponge Bob can fly!
Kites in many forms.
As we wanted to take a closer look at the kites in the competition area, we headed to the organisers tents and obtained our media passes.
There we were able to get a closer look at the huge tunnel kites. I asked one participant from Spain on the estimate cost of the tunnel kites.
“Errmm, about 3 to 4 thousand euros, depending on the size” he said. I was taken by surprise. I didn’t expect it to cost that much. In Malaysian Ringgit that would be averaging around RM 15,000 to RM 20,000.
I looked around and I estimated that the value of kites being flown that morning was about RM 300,000 and there were still some unpacked sitting under the tents of the participants.
The 3 roosters here probably costs around RM 50,000!
There was another type of kite that caught my attention, the train kite. A train kite are several kites linked together or attached in some way on a single line. The word several would probably be an understatement. The one I saw had at least 30 to 40 kites attached to a single line and was about 200 metres in length.
Too bad I didn’t manage to take a photo of it. I was driving out somewhere for lunch and when we returned to the festival site, the train kite was no longer flown. What a pity.
Flying Pirate. One of the major sights at the International Participants venue.
Over the two days, it was windy enough and I am sure the international participants had a great time enjoying the sun and also flying kites with other kite lovers from around the globe.
It came as no surprise when I asked one of the French guys about how many times in a year do they travel and fly kites. He said easily more than ten times in a year. Most of it would be around Europe as there is plenty of kite festivals in Europe and about three times to Asia. BIKF 2017 is his second time participating and he totally loves it.
There’s a kite for everyone. This young lady had to run in order to fly her kite.
Just like any other festivals in Malaysia, no festival would be complete without some food and merchandise involved. It’s the same here for BIKF 2017. At the main festival grounds there were plenty of merchandise stalls and an array of local delicacies at the Fair.
Participant from France demonstrating techniques on handling a stunt kite.
There was a few kite flying demonstration done by some of the international participants. The interesting one in my view is the stunt kite or race kite demonstration. For this kite, plenty of skill and lots of practise is required.
The stunt kite is flown and controlled by two strings. Some other stunt kites of racer kites have four string attached to the kite. The kite movement, up or down, left or right, is done by a set of pulling and releasing on these dual or quad strings.
Kite making workshop for children.
There was anothet tent and I was drawn to it as there were parents and children so actively involved in something. It happened to be a kite making workshop. So I noticed this was a fantastic bonding time between parents and their children.
At the other end of the tent was a windmill workshop for children. It taught them how to use old plastic bottles and cans and turn them into a fun colourful windmill.
I went to check out the food fair to see what kind of food they had on offer. I always make it my habit to check on the local delicacies available.
They had all sorts, from quick bites and to the heavy items for sale.
Decisions, decisions! Hmmmmmm…..
For quick bites they had fried items, sausages, bishops nose, fishballs, meat balls and so on. The favourite seem to be the local keropok lekor, Fish fritters.
Keropok lekor is best taken with chilli sauce
There was also a snack called ‘Doremon’, named after a famous Japanese cartoon character.
Apparently the Doreamon is a mini burger. Too bad the Aunty didn’t have any more to sell that day. She sold out! Must have been very good.
Te’ong Bintulu’s local shashimi
The Te’ong apparently is similar to the famous Sarawak Umai. In fact if you have tried umai, this is the same. Fine sliced fish marinated with lime, onions and plenty of chilli. Yummy.
Malaysia Book of Records
Close up view of some banners, flags and other wind garden kites that made it into the Malaysia Book of Records.
BIKF is famous for it’s record setting feats. This year it again made it into the Malaysia Book of Records for the longest wind garden street feat.
A total of over 1,100 wind garden kites of all sorts were lined up and on the final day, the official from Malaysia Book of Records officially presented to certificate to the organisers. Well done Bintulu! You have made Sarawak proud once again.
This has again added to the records set by the Festival in the Malaysia Book of Records as listed below.
2008 – 1655 kites flown at one time for 20 minutes
2010 – 92 set of train-kites each with 100 kites flown for over 20 minutes
2013 – 2550 kites flown simultaneously.
2014 – Longest Arch Kite Tunnel, 500 metre with 2500
2015 – most number of train kite in arch tunnel, 5650 kites
Malaysia’s longest wind garden street
In conclusion, I must admit that BIKF was an eye opener for me. I came into Bintulu a sceptic but in two days I became a believer. Even the two guys from the national papers that joined me on this trip, Azrin and Taufik, agreed with me when I said the festival have made me want to fly a kite again.
All those kites we saw in Bintulu stirred back those childhood memories when we flew kites. How we made kites and challenged the kites of our other friends.
I guess I owe Bintulu an apology. Your kite festival is fantastic!
With the all the kites flown, colourful and in all different forms, with a value of over RM 500,000 in my humble estimation, has given me a whole new look at the phrase “why don’t you go fly kite! “.
From now on, whoever asks me to go fly a kite, I would answer back proudly and with a smile “Oh yes off course”. I’m definitely going to fly a kite. Better still, I would fly mine at the next edition of the Borneo International Kite Festival.
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