This year’s Cha-Am International Kite Festival was held from 8-9 Mar. This is the 2nd time that the team has attended this event, which is organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. This bi-annual event is usually held at the Rama VI military camp. However, the event location for this year was changed to the normally packed Cha-Am beach, where an area of the beach is cleared specially for this event. As such, the theme for this year’s event is aptly named “SEA, SUN, FUN, FLY“.
This year’s festival is attended by a good mix of kite fliers from Asia/Pacific (Thailand, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Indonesia) and Europe (Germany, Italy, France). There is a good mix of both single line inflatables and framed kites, as well as stunt and quad-line kites for this event.
The usual itinerary for the Cha-Am kite festival includes a night stay in Bangkok, before departing for Cha-Am in Phetchaburi province, as well as upon returning from Cha-Am after the festival. We’d typically visit some tourists attractions on the way. This year, we “attempted” to visit the monkeys (Well, the deliberate use of the word was because almost all the monkeys were asleep or hiding in the shade from the noon sun while we were there), Ayutthaya Historical Park and the Thailand Boxing Association for some Muay Thai boxing. We were also treated to fabulous Thai cuisine during all our trips, which is the second most welcomed thing (tied with beer?) for kite fliers after kite flying!
On Friday afternoon, we were brought to the spot on the beach where the festival would to take place over the weekend. Typically, the beach would be packed with sun chairs and umbrellas for the restaurants and hotels by the beach. The organizers did well to clear a good size area to allow for the big show kites and sand bag anchors. The sport kites demo area was allocated the corner nearest to the DJ decks. Wind was a stiff 15-20mph in the afternoon, with low tides after 1pm allowing for a larger area for flying, especially for the sport kites demo. After a quick checking out of the beach, Jack had a quick meeting with all the fliers to settle the logistics, setting of anchors and the allocations for different kite types. We had the late afternoon free and after having packed a good 4+ hrs on the touring bus trip from Bangkok, the team had to check out the beach for some kite flying fun. We did a dry run for all our routines, given the minimal practices we had this year.
Winds for both Saturday and Sunday were smooth and seldom dropped below 15mph. The beach was packed with Bols, spinners and flags, while the sky was colored by big inflatables and framed kites. With the tide not receding until after lunch, the beach is a little cramped from morning till slightly after lunch. Being the most mobile of the lot, the sport kite fliers, mainly Team AirNergy and Azemi kite family of father and daughter Noralia, headed for the waist-deep water for some wet and wild Rev flying. The tide receding a reasonable amount after 1pm and stayed that way till evening. That’s when we’d head out to the flat beach and start performing “dry” demos and mega flys. The Rev mega team is made up of 6 members (AirNergy, Azemi and Noralia), while local lad Nick Pakorn joined us whenever he could for a 7-man team.
We did all our 4 routines over the fantastic weekend of flying, including one of our best take of the “New World” routine and the unforgiving “Sway”. Mega flys were run to the tune of a mix of “Stairway to Heaven”, and “Earth Song”, becoming a 8min epic of “Stairway to Earth” as a finale to finish both days and the event proper.
On the whole, this has been a fantastic trip for the team, with the great winds, great food, great people and great flying with many friends, not forgetting our lovely volunteers and organizers from TAT that worked hard to ensure our needs are met and also putting up a dance performance for the kite fliers farewell dinner, Jack and everyone that made this a great event! We’d hope future festivals would continue to be held on the beach and blessed with smooth winds and a low tide. In my experience, the Cha-Am festival is one of the very few where we were pampered with great hospitality at the event with great food, a good supply of water, energy drinks, coffee, water melons and where can you find an air-conditioned mobile toilet at a kite field that is kept to a cool 20C??!!!
Many thanks to all that made it such a memorable event and we’d hope to be back for the next festival in Cha-Am!
*Photos from me and various sources