Viet Nam News
By Lê Hương
“Worth watching,” “interesting” and “well-organised” were the words the audience used to describe the ongoing international kite festival at Ecopark, some 13km southeast of Hà Nội’s city centre.
Ecopark is a new urban residential area in the northern province of Hưng Yên.
Dubbed the biggest kite festival in the north, the four-day event has attracted 100 kite artisans from across Việt Nam and teams from other nations, including Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
“I think this is a meaningful entertainment activity during the long holiday,” Trần Quyết Chiến, an audience member, told Việt Nam News. “There have not been many festivals of this kind organised in Hà Nội that offer children a chance to see folk art and play with kites.”
“It’s even more appealing to adults with many prize-winning artists from the country and overseas participating in the event,” he said. “The shows are spectacular and use modern equipment. It feels like I am reliving my childhood with kites soaring in the wind and the melodious sound of flutes attached to the kites reverberating through the skies.”
Đào Duy Hà, from the HCM City Kite Club, said he had advised the organising board to invite only those artists that flew the most unique kinds of kites.
“On this Liberation Day, we would like to entertain the capital’s audience with the most unique kinds of kites that people have never even heard about,” he said. “We will try to organise such events more often and turn Ecopark into a playground for city dwellers, making it an ideal destination.”
Hà said the 12 kite artists from overseas include the world-famous Hoắc Gia Lâm, a Hà Nội-born artist residing in Canada, who has won various prizes for his kite performances and designs and is considered one of the world’s top 10 kite performance artists. The others include Prince Ida Bagus Ugrasena Narendra and Princess Helmi Ginanti from Indonesia, Teo Joo Lye Peter from Singapore and Leong Chee Wan from Malaysia.
“The best domestic kite teams are also participating,” he said. “Among them is artist Phạm Quang Tâm of the Sao Vàng kite team who can make three kites fly together with music in the background,” he said.
Lâm revealed he loved flying kites in Hà Nội when he was a child. When he immigrated to Canada, he saw some locals flying kites and began to indulge in the sport again in 1985.
“I learned a lot from other experienced artists,” he said. “At first, I had to learn kite-flying skills, and then, I started competing in contests. Gradually, I accumulated several achievements. In the past, one needed favourable windy conditions to fly kites. Nowadays, many modern kites don’t need the wind at all. They can fly in all conditions except during thunderstorms.”
“The kite I fly requires a wind velocity of only 3km per hour to 20km per hour,” he said. “Flying a kite makes a person feel relaxed, happy, excited and proud, especially when flying a kite they designed.”
He now mostly designs kites for others to fly. Talking about his performance, Lâm said he wanted better control over his kites, hoping to make them dance in time to the music to make the performance more interesting and attractive to the audience.
“Today’s youth have countless options for entertainment compared with the past,” he said. “Young people should play the sport because when they master it, they will be invited to perform at events all over the world without having to bear the travel expenses. Making something ourselves gives us a sense of pride. It’s better than just sitting at home, watching TV and playing with an iPad.”
Together with Lâm’s kite display, performances by the Airnergy Group from Singapore wowed the audience the most, with their four-line kites controlled by four members, with music playing in the background.
“They must have spent lots of time practising,” audience member Nguyễn Thu Hiền said. “After seeing their performance, I fully believe that nothing is impossible for people who have a strong team spirit. They can even make kites dance in the sky like real dancers.”
“The wind is good here, and the people are friendly,” Zulkifli Said from Singapore’s Airnergy Group said. “We hope to return to Hà Nội."
“Our kites are made from long-lasting nylon. They can last for some 10 years. We don’t have to make new kites too often,” he said. “Our performance is based on faith. We need to be faithful (in our duty) to one another and be kind to all humankind.”
The group practises twice a month. Its members have been together for four years and have travelled throughout the world to perform.
The group has performed in Việt Nam seven times, while this is their second visit to Hà Nội.
Festival-goers could also create their own kites under the guidance of artisans.
“The organisers advertised the event fairly well, and it is taking place over a long holiday, so it’s rather crowded here,” audience member Chiến said.
“I think it would have been even better if there were more games on site for the children here, so they could play and watch the kite performances at the same time.” – VNS