Issue 71: Dave’s World – Thailand Intl Kite Festival

Looking out at photos of the field, there is one thing you notice and one thing you don’t.

The thing you notice is despite the fact we are in Thailand, the sky is dominated — actually crowded — with western style giant inflatables.

What you don’t notice is the heat. We hover in the shadows cast by our large kites. We suck down bottles of cool water. We wrap ourselves dripping wet with iced towels. And we bless the bumpy winds all the time we are cursing them for wreaking havoc in the sky.

This is the 11th Thailand International Kite Festival. Fliers from 25 countries have gathered at the coastal resort of Cha-am — about an hour from Bangkok. Big bags and blustering winds are the order of the day.

Last week, I detailed the traditional competitions conducted at the side of the field each afternoon. The aerial combat of Chulas and Pakpao were mesmerizing. But for local audiences, the larger show kites seemed more interesting.

Our USA team, the New Zealanders, and the Kuwaitis all lofted larger Lynn designs. Pilots anchored them from far above. But warm turbulence kept them twisting and crashing.

Saturday, one of our four large Spikey Balls broke loose. It bounced across the field, over the fence, through the banners, floated across the river, and came to rest in neighboring trees. It was retrieved with no damage and the air conditioned ride to get it was a treat!

New Zealand spend much of the event on the ground untangling lines and tuning Pilots.

Sunday, my Giant Diablo, which had flown without incident the entire day before, simply turned over and dove 100 feet to the ground. It burst on impact like a paper bag. That means we have a long day of sewing repairs ahead.

But despite the challenges, amazing kites take to the skies. The flying was good fun, and the company of well known kite friends was delightful.

Edo Borghetti of Italy opened huge Bols to delight spectators. The Chinese brought traditional Dragons. Indonesia presented amazingly detailed foils and abstract sticked kites. Linda and Kevin Sanders of Australia ringed the field with their ‘Women of the World’ banners. Wolfgang Schimmelphnnig flew his amazing Shark.

The Japanese melded traditional images with modern materials and platforms. Michael Alvarez flew his complex cellular pieces. Jos and Kaatje showcased their whimsical creations. And my own favorite was the ‘Evolution” stack from Andreas Agren of Sweden.

Early in the organizing process, we learned that the Bangkok Zoo had just acquired a new Panda. The festival soon began to promote the “largest Panda in the world”.

And actually, two big ones showed up. New Zealand flew a great stack of three – -a mini, middy, and maxi. We put up our own maxi as well. Then, knowing they were all the same size, we let the announcers quibble over which was larger.

As the sun set, we were asked to abandon our anchors and walk the hard-pulling kite over to the sidelines and really give the crowd a show!

Other friends on the field included England, France, Ghana, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Thailand was not an easy show this year. But it was definitely fun. We were welcomed with a formal opening banquet, and departed following a delightful farewell dinner party on floating restaurant that cruised the Royal River in Bangkok. We went to the fields early each day and remained for night flies every evening. Between performances, the fliers went trolling for open internet connections or clustered at our favorite local tailor for fittings of custom-made clothing and an impromptu evening fashion show.

Susan and I stayed on an extra day in Bangkok to catch our breath, and then flew home to a large stack of special orders and requests.

The Lincoln City Indoor Kite festival is this weekend. The week started sunny but rain has set in now. But like I said, the event is indoors so check back for details on that!

In ten days, I fly to France and my 20th visit to the huge festival in Berck. We also have Spring travel plans for Japan, Ocean City, Wildwood and Grand Haven. See you out there in our wonderful kite world somewhere soon!

David Gomberg