THE recently concluded 18th World Kite Festival at Bukit Layang-Layang in Pasir Gudang, Johor, saw a mix of old and new participants from Malaysia and 35 other countries.
Ukraine, Russia and Zambia were the three new countries taking part in the festival bringing the total number of foreign participants to 236 — an increase of 11 from last year’s total.
One of the regular faces at the event was New Zealander Peter Lynn, 66, who had been taking part in the event since it was first introduced in 1995.
“Friendly Malaysians and the kite flying culture are the two things that keep me coming back to Johor every year,’’ he said.
Lynn said he had witnessed tremendous changes taking place in Pasir Gudang over the years since coming here for the past 18 years.
He added that praises should be given to the organisers for successfully organising such an event as it had helped forge strong bonding among kite flyers from different countries.
For Austrian kite flyer Ronald Artzmann, 62, it was his first visit to Malaysia and he decided to attend the event after being coaxed by his friend.
He loved the variety of Malaysian cuisines especially the spicy food and looking forward to come back again next year for the same event.
Another first timer to the event Alex Shramko, 29, from Ukraine found that the hot weather was challenging for him as it was now winter in his homeland.
“But, meeting fellow kite flyers from different countries and sharing ideas and knowledge about kites help me forget about the heat,’’ he said.
Shramko said he had made friends with Malaysian kite flyers and was particularly amazed with the wau bulan (local kite) which produced sound when flying high.
Apart from watching kites of different shapes, sizes and designs hover in the Pasir Gudang skies, other side activities organised at the event include kite making competitions, kite making workshops and a colouring contest for children.
Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar attended the recent opening ceremony. Present were Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and Johor Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hoo Seong Chang.