Put the wind up you and take to the skies, its kite season in Bali. And to celebrate the return of the prevailing south easterlies, Bali is hosting its International Kite Festival in Sanur, this month. At this time of year, the skies over Bali are full of singing and nattering kites, some even with lights – lest one fool those below, into preparing for interplanetary visitations.

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Up, up and away…

If you can tear yourself away from life on earth, a quick glance up will show you the locals have gone kite mad. Take a look at the bale banjars (village meeting hall) of Seminyak, Kerobokan, Canggu amongst them. The staff at your villa will take you to have a gander. Imagine they would be thrilled to show off the huge kites their boys have been working on for the last month.

As each of the island’s banjars will be represented at this event. The kites have been constructed with the pride of the banjar at stake. No small thing in a country that operates within the ideals of saving face. And with kites flyers from all over the world invited to display their prowess, there’s a lot at stake.

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Take a piece of string, some bamboo and cloth…

Constructing these aerial monsters can often take a month or so as these kites are often enormous. The bird shaped Janggan (phoenix) kite often reach more than 100 metres in length. Most frequently seen are the traditional shapes of a fish, leaf or bird with each shape competing in heats of 10. And like all good Balinese festivities, the local gamelan orchestra come along. They help the crowd run like the wind, get their kite off the ground and flying. There’s nothing like the psychedelic pitch of a gamelan orchestra to whip the crowd into a motivational frenzy.

Old skool team building

It’s an impressive show of community spirit to see up to 90 men from the same neighbourhood getting something off the ground. It’s not something we see much of in more modern societies. It is this bonding in community and appreciation of synchronicity that is often appreciated about Balinese culture. And part of what keeps it remarkably intact despite the influx of tourists.

Run like the wind

The kites can often be seen, odd as it may seem, out on the road, carried on lorries to kite competitions around the island. Each banjar is to be represented at the festival, joined by a launch team of between 70 and 90 people. This surely is one moment you could really do with all the help you can get, as the kites compete on launch and length of flight.

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It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a great day out

It’s a rare moment to see so many of the locals in one place. Apart from being unique in its array of colour and sounds it’s a great day out. And well worth the effort of going if you’re here on the island. Are you ready for take off?

 

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